Media event date: 
25 August 2019
Date published: 
26 August 2019
Media type: 
Media release
Audience: 
General public

The Morrison Government will invest over $40 million to provide affordable access to two new medicine listings through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), helping Australians with opiate addiction and those suffering breathlessness throughout their final stages of life.

Under the PBS, new treatments for opiate dependency and chronic breathlessness will now be available to patients in need.

Two new PBS listings from 1 September will include:

Buvidal® (Buprenorphine) will be listed on the PBS, to help treat patients living with opiate dependency;

  • Every day in Australia, nearly 150 hospitalisations and 14 emergency department admissions involve opioid harm, and three people die from drug-induced deaths involving opioid use.
  • Buvidal® is a medicine used to treat opioid dependence in patients who are also receiving medical, social and psychological support.
  • It works by decreasing the effects of opioid dependency such as withdrawal symptoms and cravings to use opioids.
  • Over 110,000 Australians are currently struggling with opioid dependence with increasing deaths from overdose, 1119 deaths in 2016.
  • On an average day approximately 50,000 people receive currently available treatment for their opioid dependence at 2,852 dosing points across Australia.
  • Buvidal provides a more flexible option for people to manage their addiction replacing daily treatment at a pharmacy or dosing point with weekly or monthly injection, removing cost burden for daily dispensing, reducing travel requirements, especially in regional Australia.
  • This medicine will be free for people in need as it will be listed on the Government’s section 100 Opiate Dependence Treatment Program, which does not have any co-payments.
  • Without PBS subsidy, the drug could cost up to $92 per script (treatment durations are weekly or monthly) of treatment with the Government investing up to $4,800 for each person per year.
  • Buvidal was developed by Swedish medical research company Camurus with clinical trials undertaken in NSW, VIC & SA.
  • This listing follows calls for new treatments from addiction medicine specialists and the NSW Coroner for new options to curb addiction.

Kapanol® (Morphine) will be extended on the PBS to include a new indication on the Palliative Care Schedule;

  • Kapanol® helps with the relief of distressing chronic breathlessness in the palliative care of patients with severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cardiac failure, malignancy or other causes.
  • This medicine will assist those who are suffering, when they need it most.
  • An average of 19,882 patients per year will benefit from this listing.
  • Without the PBS subsidy patients would pay more than $143 per course of treatment.
  • Under the PBS, this medicines will now be available to patients for just $40.30 per script, or $6.50 with a concession card.

Every medicine was recommended to be added to the PBS by the independent expert Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee.

By law the Morrison Government cannot list a new medicine without a positive recommendation from the PBAC.

Unlike Labor, we are subsidising all medicines recommended by the independent medical experts.

Since 2013, our Government has made more than 2,100 new or amended medicines listings on the PBS.

This represents an average of around 30 listings per month, or one each day at an overall cost of around $10.6 billion.

Our commitment to the PBS is rock solid. Together with Medicare, it is the foundation of our world-class health care system.

Ministers: