Australians will have cheaper access to drugs for migraines, arthritis, bipolar, stomach ulcers and several cancers, following a price review that is expected to save $1 billion.
Starting next month, a wide range of drugs will be reduced by approximately $6 per script due to the federal government’s price disclosure policy, which reviews the cost of treatments on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) every six months. month.
Disclosure requirements ensure Australians have the cheapest possible access to lifesaving drugs, with the latest round of price cuts expected to save patients $130 million in out-of-pocket costs.
Ensuring these drugs are provided at the lowest price will also save taxpayers an estimated $930 million in subsidies.
From October 1, up to half a million Australians with stomach ulcers will save $6.84 on esomeprazole, while 60,000 patients with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder will pay no more of $28.42 per script of quetiapine.
More than 20,000 migraine and epilepsy sufferers can expect to pay $34.90 per script for topiramate, and about 15,000 patients with severe psoriatic arthritis will save on leflunomide prescriptions.
Australian women using anastrozole to inhibit breast cancer progression will save up to $2.36 per script.
The government is also listing other drugs on the PBS, including expanding access to the cancer drug pembrolizumab, known as Keytruda, for up to 500 patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma.
Without a subsidy, a course of this treatment can cost a patient over $135,000.
Keytruda has already helped thousands of Australians, including Wollongong nurse Mary Carroll, 62, who ‘never dreamed’ she would reach her 60th birthday after discovering she had cancer metastasized to a lung six years ago.
“I remember turning to my sister at the time and saying, ‘I’m going to die, aren’t I? “said Ms. Carroll.
“And my sister said, ‘Yeah, you are,’ because we don’t beat around the bush in my family.”
Ms Carroll was lucky enough to qualify for a clinical trial where she received a combination of Keytruda and chemotherapy.
After nine weeks, her cancer was completely gone.
“If Keytruda becomes a standard part of the cancer treatment repertoire, it means more people have a chance of being in the position I am in,” she said.
Health Minister Mark Butler said the changes would improve the lives of thousands of Australian patients and their families.
“The government is making a trip to the pharmacy cheaper for thousands of Australians,” he said.
Treatments added to PBS also include expanding avelumab, known as Bavencio, to patients with stage three and four urothelial cancer.
Decitabine plus cedazuridine, known as Inqovi, will be listed on the PBS for the first time to treat myelodysplastic syndromes and chronic myelomonocytic leukemia, which affect blood cells and bone marrow.
The government will also list for the first time mecasermin, known as Increlex, to treat children with primary insulin-like growth factor deficiency.