Relief is in sight for Australians facing bills of nearly $30,000 a year as a treatment for a severe type of eczema is listed in the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
Atopic dermatitis is a chronic skin condition that can have a significant impact on daily life, including sleep problems, increased risk of infection, depression and anxiety.
Unlike other types of eczema, it usually does not go away in days or weeks and often comes back or flares up after periods of recovery.
“The condition can cause physical discomfort, which in turn can cause insomnia, emotional distress, depression, embarrassment and social stigma,” says Melanie Funk of Eczema Support Australia.
“As a result, people may avoid work, social situations and relationships.”
Rinvoq reduces itching and flare-ups by blocking enzymes that create signals in the body’s immune system, leading to inflammation.
More than 3,500 people are expected to benefit from the new list, Health Minister Greg Hunt said.
Huge cost reduction
“Without this subsidy, patients could pay over $27,000 a year for treatment, instead they will pay $42.50 or as little as $6.80 per script,” Hunt said.
The drug was developed by pharmaceutical company AbbVie, and Australia and New Zealand chief executive Chris Stemple welcomed the move.
“We remain committed to innovation and developing a deeper understanding of the disease in the hope of making a difference in the lives of Australians living with this debilitating disease,” he said.
Listing of Rinvoq on the PBS was recommended by the independent Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Board.
It will be available from February 1.