From 1 August 2022, Australians will have access to new and updated Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) listings, including a new spinal muscular atrophy medicine for adult patients.
The PBS listing of nusinersen (Spinraza®) will be extended to include treatment of adult patients diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) whose symptoms appeared before 19 years of age.
SMA is a rare genetic neuromuscular condition which causes progressive muscle wasting (atrophy) and weakness leading to loss of movement.
Until now there have been no treatment options available on the PBS for adults living with SMA.
Approximately one in 35 Australians carry the SMA gene - but most are unaware.
Without a subsidy, families would pay well over $300,000 per year for nusinersen treatment. Now, it costs just $42.50 per script, or $6.80 with a concession card. This will benefit an average of 100 patients per year.
A new long-acting (6-month injection cycle) form of the medicine paliperidone (Invega Hafyera®) will be listed to treat schizophrenia for patients who have been stabilised on 1-monthly or 3-monthly injections.
Schizophrenia is a complex brain disorder affecting between 150,000 and 200,000 Australians, causing an altered experience of reality including delusions and hallucinations.
Without subsidy for paliperidone patients may pay $4,200 per year of treatment. Last year 5,400 people accessed another form of long-acting paliperidone, and they will now have an alternative treatment option.
A new treatment option for those with multiple sclerosis (MS), diroximel fumarate (Vumerity ®) will be made available through the PBS. Without this listing patients could pay up to $8,500 a year on treatment.
MS is a result of damage to myelin – a protective sheath surrounding nerve fibres of the central nervous system. This interferes with messages between the brain and other parts of the body.
The Albanese Government is committed to making medicines more affordable for all Australians and ensuring they have improved independence and a better quality of life.
Quotes attributable to Minister Butler:
“These updates to the PBS will improve the lives for Australians who suffer from SMA, schizophrenia and MS.
“These are remarkable medications that without government support would be unaffordable for thousands of Australians diagnosed with these conditions.
“The Albanese Government is committed to expanding the PBS, and will continue to list new medicines, or expand PBS listings, where recommended by the independent Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee.
“We will continue to make vital medicines more affordable for all Australians.”
A full list of 1 August changes can be found here.