Minister for Health and Aged Care – interview on 2GB Sydney Breakfast – 18 September 2023

Read the transcript of Minister Butler's interview with Mark Levy about diabetes medication Fiasp being added to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

The Hon Mark Butler MP
Minister for Health and Aged Care

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MARK LEVY, HOST: Well, as I've mentioned, some fantastic news to share with you this morning. Earlier this year, you may remember Ben speaking about Fiasp. It's a crucial fast-acting insulin used by diabetics. 15,000 people swear by the medication, but families were thrown a major curve ball because it was set to be taken off the PBS. Under the PBS it cost $30 per script, but after being taken off, it cost $220 per script. For lots of families that would have priced them out of the market. 

Mark Butler, the Federal Health Minister, told Ben back in March that they'd managed to keep it on the PBS for another six months. Those six months are now up, but there's good news and we can exclusively reveal it this morning. The Federal Health Minister Mark Butler joins me on the line right now. Minister, good morning to you. 


LEVY: What would you like to share with our listeners this morning?

BUTLER: I said to Ben and your listeners – your station has been really focused on this, and I want to thank you for that – I said six months ago that I was able to put in place a supply order that effectively required supply of that Fiasp product for another six months, and that in that six-month period, we would be working hard with the company that makes this – which is an overseas pharmaceutical company – and with the diabetes community to come up with a long term replacement. And given that the clock has been ticking, I know that families are nervous about this because that six-month supply order comes to an end at the end of September. 

I'm very pleased to say that we've found a permanent solution with a new Fiasp product, so that exactly the same fast-acting insulin will be listed on the PBS from the 1st of October. It's called Fiasp Penfill, but it clinically is exactly the same as the old product, just another product made by the company, Novo Nordisk.

So, this has been terrific work by my department, by the JDRF, which is the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation – terrific organisation, particularly representing families with type 1 diabetes – and also Diabetes Australia, working with that company to find those 15,000 Australians a long-term solution. 

LEVY: Oh, this is great news, Minister, great news. What's it going to cost for all those people out there listening – parents who Ben spoke to who are unhappy about the price rise when it came off the PBS, what's it going to cost, this new product for sufferers of diabetes?

BUTLER: As your listeners know, we've reduced the maximum amount for a script from $42 down to $30 in January, the biggest cut to the price of medicines in the 75-year history of the PBS. So, the maximum you'll pay for a script is $30. And if you're on a concession card, that will be just $7 per script as well.

We know people are doing it tough. There are huge cost of living pressures as we deal with this global inflation shock. So, this will be welcome news to families as well. This is just such an important product for people living with diabetes, particularly for families who have a child with type 1 diabetes. They've been very nervous about the decision the company took earlier this year, and finding a long-term solution will give them peace of mind. 

LEVY: Well, congratulations to you and your department. This is welcome news and this will, I'm sure, be celebrated by plenty of families and diabetics across the country. Great news. It's affordable and something that will look after everyday Australians who battle diabetes each and every day. Minister, I appreciate you calling through with the news. 

BUTLER: Thanks, Mark. Good to talk to you. 

LEVY: Awesome news. The Federal Health Minister Mark Butler. And well done to Ben Fordham who took up this fight on behalf of our listeners, Fiasp Penfill will now be available, $30, as the Minister said. And look, if your son or daughter, you, yourself use this, I'd love to hear from you this morning. Is this the news you've been waiting for? 131 873 is the number, you can text me on 0460 873 873. I want to bring in a listener right now, Kelly, her daughter uses this particular medication. Good morning, Kelly. 

KELLY, LISTENER: Good morning. How are you? 

LEVY: I'm very well, thank you. This is great news. 

KELLY: It’s – I'm so emotional. It's unbelievable news. We are so grateful. We were so grateful for the supply order that gave us some certainty for a little while. But I can't tell you how grateful I am to have the permanent solution and to know that Fiasp will be available to Jenner and to other people in her situation. Thank you to the Minister, to his team, to JDRF, to Diabetes Australia, 2GB, to everyone who advocated. I'm – I don't know if you can hear it in my voice – I'm shaking. I'm so excited. 

LEVY: Well, Kelly, it's tough out there. Cost of living pressures. We hear from listeners every day on this radio station, and, you know, you shouldn't have to pay $220 per script, $30 per script – it's affordable. And you're able to give your daughter the care she needs. 

KELLY: Absolutely. And she's able to then look after herself for the longer term, you know, sending her out into the world as an adult is scary enough, as any parent knows. But to know that she'll be able to afford the medication that keeps her alive on a daily basis, that means that she can live a life, you know, it's got its challenges, but it's more like everybody else's life. That's amazing. So huge news for all of us who live in the type 1 community this morning. Super excited. 

LEVY: Do me a favour, Kelly. Can you give her a big hug from everybody listening this morning? 

KELLY: I'm going to go and wake her up now. She's still asleep.

LEVY: Good on you, Kelly. 

KELLY: Thanks so much.

LEVY: It's wonderful to hear you. And great news that we could share with listeners to Ben's program this morning. Well done to the Minister and this is welcome news for everybody.  


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