The extension of the listing of nicotine patches on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme from 1 February 2011

Page last updated: 16 October 2013

  • At its March 2010 meeting, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) recommended an extension to the listing of nicotine patches through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) as an aid to smoking cessation.  Previously, nicotine replacement therapy was only available to indigenous patients.
  • From 1 February 2011, the listing for nicotine patches (Nicorette®, Nicabate P® and Nicotinell®) has been extended to include all eligible individuals (general and concessional patients). 
  • Supply of the nicotine patches on the PBS requires a prescription from a medical practitioner or authorised nurse practitioner.
  • The nicotine patches will be available as a 12 week supply in each year (one original script plus two repeats) and will be authority listed, with the same access restrictions as the existing smoking cessation therapy listings on the PBS.  Specifically:
    • Commencement of short-term, sole PBS-subsidised, therapy as an aid to achieving abstinence in a patient who has indicated they are ready to cease smoking and:
      • who has entered a comprehensive support and counselling program; or
      • who is entering a comprehensive support and counselling program during the consultation at which this authority is requested.
        Further information, with examples of support programs can be found on the quitnow website at www.quitnow.gov.au
  • The patches are available in two presentations – one which releases 21mg of nicotine over  24 hours and one which releases 15 mg of nicotine over 16 hours.
  • If a patient is unsuccessful in quitting using the nicotine patches, they are able to access other smoking cessation therapies on the PBS (bupropion and varenicline) during that 12 month period.
  • No application has been made to the PBAC to list other strengths of nicotine patches or other forms of nicotine replacement therapies such as lozenges or gum and therefore the PBAC is not able to recommend that these other products be listed on the PBS.  The Government cannot list a medicine on the PBS without a recommendation from the PBAC, nor compel a sponsor or other organisation to make an application to list a medicine on the PBS. 

Background

Medicines can only be listed on the PBS on the recommendation of the independent, expert advisory body known as the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC), which is comprised of doctors, other health professionals and a consumer representative and only following consideration of an application for subsidy.  The PBAC considers applications for PBS listing having regard to the clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness (value-for-money) of medicines, in comparison with other available treatments.

The submission to list nicotine patches on the PBS was made by a consortium consisting of Cancer Council Australia, Heart Foundation, Australian Council on Smoking and Health and Quit Victoria.