Australian Government to Subsidise Cancer, Parkinson’s Drugs

March 22, 2019Worldshare
Australian Government to Subsidise Cancer, Parkinson’s Drugs
Minister for Health Greg Hunt during question time at Parliament House on May 10, 2017 in Canberra, Australia. (Stefan Postles/Getty Images)

Cancer, Parkinson’s and motor neurone patients could get major savings after three new drugs were listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

The federal government will spend $19 million (US$13.5 million) to list the medicines on the PBS, with patients able to access them for $40.30 per script or $6.50 with a concession card from April.

The listing of Adcetris will be broadened to treat a rare form of cancer which affects about 150 to 200 Australian each year called cutaneous T-cell lymphomas.

Sometimes confused with eczema, patients can suffer from itchy, rash-like symptoms across the body which can often go undiagnosed for some time.

It usually affects people aged 40 to 60 years and is more common in men than women, with the drug a combination of immunotherapy and chemotherapy targeting cancer cells.

“It has the potential to save and protect lives,” Health Minister Greg Hunt said in a statement on Tuesday, March 19.

Without subsidy, an average of 60 patients per year would otherwise pay up to $300,000 a year for this treatment.

Parkinson’s patients will get access to Xadago which increases dopamine levels in the brain to decrease symptoms.

More than 11,000 people with Parkinson’s are expected to benefit from the listing, with patients previously paying about $1,400 a year for treatment.

Teglutik will also be listed on the PBS to treat amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a form of motor neurone disease, which can cause muscle degeneration leading to muscle weakness.

This medicine could help prevent nerve cells from being damaged by stopping the release of a chemical messenger in the brain.

More than 1,300 patients are expected to benefit having previously paid about $2,900 a year for the treatment.

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