Removal of the temporary PBS listings introduced during the tocilizumab shortage, which allowed patients to transition off tocilizumab and onto another biological disease modifying drug
Page last updated: 1 November 2022
As of 15 July 2022, the supply shortage of tocilizumab has resolved. From 1 December 2022, the temporary Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) listings, which allowed patients to transition off tocilizumab during the shortage period onto another biological disease modifying drug (bDMARD), will be placed in ‘Supply Only’ state. This means that these items can no longer be prescribed. More information on the initial arrangements can be found in the PBS news item published 20 August 2021, PBS Arrangements for tocilizumab shortage.
The Supply Only state allows patients to continue to access outstanding repeats on prescriptions that were issued under these item codes. These items will remain in a Supply Only state from 1 December 2022 for 6 months, before being completely removed.
The following PBS item codes will be affected by these changes:
Information for Prescribers
Prescribers may wish to take this opportunity to consider whether it is clinically appropriate to change their patients back to treatment with tocilizumab. Item codes for tocilizumab which allow patients affected by the shortage to return to treatment with tocilizumab will remain on the PBS. Patients will then be able to transition back onto the relevant ‘continuing treatment’ phase without having to re-meet the ‘initial treatment’ criteria of their former prescribed treatment. These codes are available on the PBS website.
Alternatively, if patients are to remain on their current bDMARD therapy, prescribers should review their patients to ensure they meet the PBS eligibility criteria for the relevant ‘continuing treatment’ listing.
Information for Pharmacists
Pharmacists should note that following the 6-month Supply Only period, authority prescriptions for the above codes will no longer be valid and cannot be dispensed. Pharmacists are encouraged to advise affected patients to consult with their doctor regarding continued treatment.
Information for Consumers
If you (or someone you provide care for) were switched off tocilizumab to another biological medicine due to the shortage, your prescription for the alternative biological medicine will still remain valid until 31 May 2023. You should have a discussion with your prescriber about ongoing treatment options before the end of this 6-month period