Subsidy for groundbreaking virus treatments
19 February 2013
More than 130,000 patients a year will soon benefit from new and extended subsidies of important medicines through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
Among the listings, announced today by Minister for Health Tanya Plibersek, are two groundbreaking new treatments for chronic hepatitis C.
"These breakthrough medicines represent new hope for patients with hepatitis C," Ms Plibersek said.
"In many cases, this virus can progress into life-threatening conditions such as liver failure and liver cancer."
The Australian Government will provide more than $220 million over five years to subsidise boceprevir (Victrelis®) and telaprevir (Incivo®), for people at least 18 years old with a certain type of chronic hepatitis C (genotype 1).
"These medicines could double the cure rate and shorten the treatment duration by six months," Ms Plibersek said.
As one of the most commonly reported notifiable diseases in Australia, hepatitis C represents a significant public health problem. It was estimated in 2011 that more than 300,000 Australians had been exposed to the hepatitis C virus and at least 220,000 were living with chronic hepatitis C.
Unlike other types of hepatitis, there is currently no vaccine to prevent hepatitis C and medication is the only way to manage the disease.
Ms Plibersek said: "Our decision to list boceprevir and telaprevir reflects the Government’s continuing commitment to consumers and industry to consider and decide on high-cost listings within the timeframes agreed with Medicines Australia.
"Patients would have to pay up to $78,000 per year for these medicines without subsidised access through the PBS."
In addition to the new treatments for hepatitis C, the Government has also agreed to list an oral contraceptive, as well as treatments for Parkinson disease, for type 2 diabetes and for high cholesterol.
The Government has also agreed to extend the PBS listing for an osteoporosis treatment, and to increase the price of nine other medicines for conditions including high blood pressure and inflammatory bowel disease.
Most of the new listings and price increases announced today are expected to take effect from 1 April 2013. All PBS listings and price changes are subject to final arrangements being met by the suppliers of the medicines.
- boceprevir (Victrelis®) and telaprevir (Incivo®) – for people at least 18 years old with a certain type of chronic hepatitis C (genotype 1).
- levonorgestrel with 20 mg ethinyloestradiol (Femme-Tab ED®) – for use as an oral contraceptive.
- rotigotine (Neupro®) – for the treatment of Parkinson disease as additional therapy for patients being treated with other medicine for this condition.
- sitagliptin with simvastatin (Juvicor®) – for the treatment of type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol.
- strontium ranelate (Protos®) - for the treatment of osteoporosis - the listing will be extended to include male patients at least 70 years of age with a certain bone mineral density.
- aciclovir (Zovirax®) - for the treatment of herpes simplex virus infections of the eye.
- benzylpenicillin (BenPen®) - for the treatment of serious bacterial infections.
- carmellose (Aquae®) and hypromellose (Aquae Gel®) - for the treatment of dry mouth in the palliative care setting.
- erythromycin (E‑Mycin®) - for the treatment of respiratory tract infections.
- hydralazine (Alphapress®) - for the treatment of high blood pressure.
- hydrocortisone (Colifoam®) - for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease.
- nitrofurantoin (Macrodantin®) - for the treatment of urinary tract infections.
- sucralfate (Ulcyte®) - for the treatment of stomach ulcers.