From 1 November 2023, Australians with treatment-resistant high frequency episodic migraine will have access to fremanezumab (Ajovy®) through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
Migraine is a complex genetic condition that can be debilitating and usually involves severe headache accompanied by nausea, vomiting or sensitivity to light or sound. About 400,000 Australians live with chronic migraine.
This listing is expected to benefit around 6,100 patients per year. Without subsidy, patients may pay about $6,700 per year of treatment.
The PBS listing of this medicine means that eligible patients will pay only a maximum of $30 per script, or just $7.30 with a concession card.
Since 1 July 2022, there has been additional funding approved for 138 new and amended listings on the PBS.
Quotes attributable to Minister Butler:
“The Australian Government continues to deliver on our election promise to provide cheaper medicines to Australian patients.
“Migraine is a debilitating condition. It is vital that medicines such as this be made available, at an affordable price, for Australians.
“The Government is committed to improving the lives of people living with migraine and this PBS listing will ensure they are able to access crucial treatment options.
“Treatments such as this can reduce the frequency and symptoms of migraine, improving quality of life for these Australians and their families.
“This PBS listing will help thousands of Australians with this condition and save them thousands of dollars in treatment costs.”
Quotes attributable to Dr Elspeth Hutton, Australia and New Zealand Headache Society:
"Migraine is the leading cause of age-adjusted disability in Australia, and people with more frequent attacks have greater impacts on their ability to work, study and engage in family and recreational activities.
“This new listing for high-frequency episodic migraine (HFEM) will extend that chance for a better life to more Australians, and is enthusiastically welcomed by clinicians treating patients living with migraine.
“Patients with HFEM have a greater risk of progressing to chronic migraine, and like those with chronic migraine have a higher risks of developing comorbidities, such as medication overuse headache, poor mental health, obesity and cardiovascular illness, so effective treatment for his group not only improves their lives now, but is vital to improve health over the lifespan.
“We thank the Australian Government for recognising the burden carried by migraine patients and working to improve their quality of life."
Quotes attributable to Carl Cinicinnato, Migraine & Headache Australia:
"Individuals with high-frequency episodic migraine face a higher risk of progressing to chronic migraine compared to other groups. Now, for the first time, these individuals have affordable access to a migraine-specific medication to help prevent attacks and potentially stave off chronic migraine.
“Adding high-frequency episodic migraine coverage to the PBS is vital. Research indicates it shares more similarities with chronic migraine in disease burden than with low-frequency episodic migraine. This helps deliver better access to targeted migraine treatments to those who need them.
"Providing affordable access to migraine-specific treatments can help alleviate the burden and cost of migraine in Australia.
"Migraine is more than just a bad headache; it's a neurological disorder that can result in unpredictable attacks. Symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, visual and cognitive disturbances, fatigue, and sensitivities to light, sound, and movement. This condition can profoundly affect an individual's relationships, work, family life, overall well-being, and mental health.
"If you have a headache that disrupts your day, accompanied by light sensitivity or nausea, see a doctor for a potential diagnosis. Although there's no cure for migraines, appropriate treatment and management can alleviate symptoms for many."