Hunt adds several new treatments to PBS

Health Minister Greg Hunt has listed three new drugs for government subsidy.
Health Minister Greg Hunt has listed three new drugs for government subsidy.

Medical experts have welcomed a decision by the federal government to list a new treatment on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme which lowers cholesterol levels and can reduce a person's risk of heart attack of stroke.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said more than 20,000 Australians would have access to Praluent, a treatment for people suffering from hypercholesterolaemia, which results in abnormally high levels of cholesterol in the blood.

It would normally cost around $6500 per year for this treatment.

Associate Professor James Shaw, a cardiologist at The Alfred Hospital in Melbourne said despite treatment with cholesterol lowering medicines, nearly half of all high cardiovascular risk patients managed by GPs are not meeting recommended cholesterol targets.

"That is why the PBS listing of an additional cholesterol-lowering therapy is very much welcomed," he said.

Another PBS listing from August 1 will allow patients with spinal muscular atrophy types 1, 2 or 3a who are aged 18 years or under subsidised access to Evrysdi for the first time.

The treatment comes in oral form and is a less invasive treatment option for patients compared to spinal injections, and may also reduce the frequency of visits to specialist hospitals.

"Without PBS subsidy, around 100 Australians a year will pay more than $123,000 for treatment," Mr Hunt said.

Also being listed is Ajovy, which is available to Australians with chronic migraine.

Around 10,000 sufferers would pay around $6700 per year for this new treatment.

Neurologist and Associate Professor Susan Tomlinson says the response to migraine treatments varies between individuals.

"The good news is that today's listing of AJOVY provides an additional option for the Australians who are still yet to optimally manage this debilitating and complex neurological condition," she said.

"Emotional stress and changes in lifestyle habits can worsen the clinical course of migraine, and it is acknowledged that COVID-19 could be adding to the already significant burden of migraine in Australia."

Australian Associated Press