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  • PBS will subsidise blood and respiratory cancer drugs

    Author: AAP

Thousands of Australians are expected to benefit from new PBS listings for drugs used in treating respiratory illness, blood cancer and early onset puberty.

Australians with a chronic respiratory illness, early onset puberty or blood cancer are among those to benefit with better access to medicines on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

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Thousands of people are expected to take advantage of new and expanded listings available from November 1, Health Minister Greg Hunt says.

"Without PBS subsidies many Australians would be thousands of dollars out of pocket," he said.

"Instead they'll only pay $41.30 per script or $6.60 with a concession card for these medicines."

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Some of the new drugs reduce hormone levels in children experiencing early onset puberty, while others lead to better health outcomes for cancer and respiratory disease patients.

A drug used to treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Breztri Aerosphere, will be available on the PBS from next week.

The disease is preventable and treatable, and causes airways in the lungs to narrow, making it difficult to breathe.

About 1 in 20 Australians aged 45 years and over have COPD, which was the fifth leading cause of death in 2018.

Without the subsidy, around 68,000 Australians per year might pay more than $1000 annually for treatment.

The drug Diphereline will also be available to treat central precocious puberty, which is more common in girls and can cause physical, emotional, behavioural and social problems.

With CPP, puberty onset occurs before eight in girls (instead of the average age of 10) and before nine years in boys (instead of age 12).

The treatment works by lowering the levels of the hormone oestrogen for females and testosterone in males, and the subsidy is predicted to save about $3600 per person annually.

Earlier this year, the drug Darzalex was listed on the PBS for the first time for use in combination with other medications as a second-line treatment for multiple myeloma.

The blood cancer develops from plasma cells in the bone marrow and it is estimated that around 2423 Australians will be diagnosed in 2021.

Darzalex is a "ground-breaking" treatment that mobilises the immune system to fight the disease.

From November 1, patients will have access to a new form of Darzalex that can be given as an injection under the skin.

The PBS subsidy could save more than 1000 Australians more than $136,000 per course of treatment.

The listings have been recommended by the independent Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee.


Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

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