Australian patients to benefit from 11 new medicines on PBS

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Malcolm Turnbull & Greg Hunt
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (L) stands with Australia's Environment Minister Greg Hunt during a media conference in Sydney, Australia, March 23, 2016. Reuters/David Gray

The prices of 11 medicines for treating diabetes, arthritis, cancer, asthma and eye disease will be cut down in Australia. Prices will drop from up to $1,800 a year to a maximum of $39.50 per prescription as the federal government cuts down the cost of these drugs.

News.com.au reports Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt announcing a series of new Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) listings. These will reportedly start from April 1.

Hunt said that the new treatment option will be available to more than 178,000 Australians every year. It will cost patients about $1,820 every year without subsidised access.

Toujeo, a high-strength, longer-lasting insulin, will provide more options for patients to manage treatment and cut nighttime hypoglycaemia. Forziga, Xigduo and Qtern are type 2 diabetes oral medicines that will also be added to the listings.

Eligibility for subsidised access to diabetes medicines Jardiamet, Jardianc, Trajentamet, Galvus and Galvumet will be expanded under the new round of Turnbull government subsidies. A subsidy on current diabetes medicines will benefit more people. The Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee has also recommended the listings.

The government will include a series of new medicines for the treatment of cancer as well. These include pralatrexate, which is known as Folotyn. It will provide a new treatment option for T-Cell lymphoma and will help about 440 patients every year.

Atezolizumab will be accessible for the treatment of locally advanced or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer. Patients normally pay about $100,000 per treatment. About 2,000 patients will be assisted under the latest round of government subsidies.

Patients with basal cell carcinoma will also be assisted as the government subsidised Sonidegib. This will help more than 900 patients a year.

Methotrexate treats rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis. It will also be available to benefit 2,300 patients.

A new brand of budesonide is also listed for the treatment of asthma as well as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Dexamethasone will be available to treat inflammatory disease of the eye and non-infectious uveitis. Over 1,000 patients will spend about $2,753 per course of treatment without subsidised access. Patients will now pay a maximum of $39.50 per script under the subsidies. Concessional patients including pensioners will pay only $6.40.

"Since coming into government, the Coalition has helped improve the health of Australians by subsidising more than $8.2 billion worth of new medicines," Sydney Morning Herald reports Hunt as saying.

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