Widened eligibility for oral antiviral Paxlovid, plus new medicines on PBS

From 1 July 2023, Australians with severe thrombocytopenia and diabetic kidney disease will have access to new medicines through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

The Hon Mark Butler MP
Minister for Health and Aged Care

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From 1 July 2023, Australians with severe thrombocytopenia and diabetic kidney disease will have access to new medicines through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).


Avatrombopag (Doptelet®) will be listed on the PBS for the first time to treat severe thrombocytopenia in patients with chronic idiopathic thrombocytopenia purpura (ITP).


ITP is a rare, autoimmune blood disorder where the immune system attacks platelets, which are cell fragments that are found in the blood and normally help the blood to clot. Patients with ITP have fewer platelets to help stop bleeding.


This can cause spontaneous bruising, bleeding in the mouth, gums, nose, heavy menstrual periods, and internal bleeding which can be life-threatening.


In 2022, more than 600 patients accessed a comparable treatment through the PBS. Without the subsidy, patients could pay around $35,500 per year of treatment.


Finerenone (Kerendia®) will also be listed on the PBS for the first time to treat chronic kidney disease in patients with type 2 diabetes (diabetic kidney disease).


Diabetes is one of the leading causes of chronic kidney disease. Chronic kidney disease is characterised by the gradual loss of kidney function over time which decreases the ability to filter waste products from the blood.


Patients with both diabetes and chronic kidney disease are also at a higher risk of developing other complications, such as nerve and eye damage.


Without the subsidy over 26,000 patients could pay more $1,000 per year of treatment.


From 1 July 2023, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) eligibility criteria for the COVID-19 oral antiviral treatment nirmatrelvir and ritonavir (Paxlovid®) will be further expanded to include individuals aged 50‑59 years with one risk factor. The change will ensure greater access to Paxlovid for people who are at risk of severe disease.


The change was recommended by the independent, expert Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) and means Australians in this age group with only one risk factor for severe illness – instead of two – may be eligible for PBS-subsidised Paxlovid.


Individuals should have early discussions with their doctor or nurse practitioner about whether an oral antiviral treatment suits their health needs, and develop a plan should they test positive.


Further information about eligibility criteria, including links to the full list of risk factors, is available at www.pbs.gov.au and searching by drug or brand name.


The PBS eligibly criteria for molnupiravir (Lagevrio®) remains unchanged.


Since July 2022, the Australian Government has approved extra funding for 102 new and amended listings on the PBS.


Quotes attributable to Minister Butler:


“Listing Doptelet on the PBS will be life changing for patients living with ITP.”


“Without the government listing Doptelet on the PBS patients would have to pay around $35,000 per year of treatment – now the maximum they will pay is $30 per month.”


“Subsidising Kerendia will be life changing for Australians living with diabetic kidney disease.”


“Over 26,000 Australians could benefit from the government listing Kerendia on the PBS.”


“Instead of paying more than $1,000 per treatment thanks to the Albanese Government, Kerendia will cost no more than $30 per script.”


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