Media event date: 
1 August 2021
Date published: 
2 August 2021
Media type: 
Media release
Audience: 
General public

From August 1, the Morrison Government is listing a number of new medicines on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) to support thousands of Australians with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), high cholesterol and chronic migraine.

Australians patients with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) types 1, 2 or 3a who are aged 18 years or under when treatment begins will have subsidised access to Evrysdi® (risdiplam), which is being listed on the PBS for the first time.

Spinal muscular atrophy is a rare inherited genetic muscle wasting disease characterised by a loss of motor neurons. It causes progressive muscle weakness and wasting, and its most severe forms can cause paralysis and death.

One in 10,000 births in Australia are affected by SMA and the disease is the number one genetic cause of death of babies under two in Australia. There is no known cure for SMA.

One in 35 people in Australia unknowingly carry the SMA gene. Being a carrier does not mean you are affected by the condition.

Evrysdi® is an oral form of treatment for SMA. It is a less invasive treatment option for patients compared to spinal injections which may also reduce the frequency of visits to specialist hospitals. Without PBS subsidy, around 100 Australians a year will pay more than $123,000 for treatment.

Australians suffering from hypercholesterolaemia (elevation of cholesterol in the blood) will have access to a new treatment, Praluent® (alirocumab), which lowers cholesterol levels and can reduce a person’s risk of a heart attack or stroke.

Hypercholesterolaemia results in abnormally high levels of cholesterol in the blood, can lead to blockages in the arteries, hardening of the arterial walls, and a higher risk of a heart attack or stroke without proper treatment.

The treatment will be available to Australians with severe forms of hypercholesterolaemia and without PBS subsidy, more than 20,000 Australians would pay around $6,500 per year for this treatment.

Also, being listed for the first time is Ajovy® (fremanezumab), which will be available to Australians with chronic migraine.

It is estimated around 20 per cent of the population live with migraine or experience migraine attacks at some stage in their lives. Migraine often appear in childhood, adolescence or early adulthood, but affect the greatest number of people between 35 and 45 years of age who experience migraine attacks.

Without PBS subsidy, around 10,000 Australians would pay around $6,700 per year for this new treatment.

This follows a recent listing earlier this year by the Government of Emgality® (galcanezumab), which means Australians will now have a choice between two treatment options for chronic migraine.

Earlier this month, we also announced from August 1, Keytruda® (pembrolizumab) will be extended on the PBS for the treatment of Australians with colorectal cancer, a type of bowel cancer.

These new listings with save Australians and their families thousands of dollars for these treatments, which will now only cost them $41.30 per script or just $6.60 if they have a concession card.

These listings has been recommended by the independent Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee.

Since 2013, the Coalition Government has approved more than 2,700 new or amended listings on the PBS.

This represents an average of around 30 listings or amendments per month – or one each day – at an overall investment by the Government of $13.5 billion.

The Morrison Government’s commitment to ensuring Australians can access affordable medicines, when they need them, remains rock solid.’

Ministers: