Thousands of patients in need of life-changing arthritis medication will be better off when a popular treatment becomes available on the PBS in December, saving Australians more than $15,000 each year.
Minister for Health Greg Hunt has announced 4,000 people who suffer from active non-radiographic axial spondyloarthritis will save thousands of dollars per script when the price of medication Simponi (Golimumab) is slashed dramatically. Instead of paying more than $1,300 per script, patients will may just $39.50 per script, or $6.40 for concession card holders. An injection is typically needed once a month for adults with the condition.
Those in greatest need of the medication will be granted immediate compassionate access to the injections, meaning they won’t need to wait until December 1 when it is listed on the PBS. Those living with active non-radiographic axial spondyloarthritis typically show symptoms of back pain, fatigue and stiffness, as well as abnormal stiffening and immobility of the joints.
Unfortunately, the damage is irreversible, with increased risk of fracture and permanent damage to spinal mobility and function common in later life. The drug assists those living with the condition by reducing inflammation, swelling and joint destruction and is particularly helpful when patients no longer respond to regular non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Unlike other forms of arthritis, the condition isn’t always detected through x-rays, meaning many people remain undiagnosed for years. An MRI or blood test typically diagnoses the condition.
With medication to be more readily available, thousands of families will save money, better manage their condition and improve their overall quality of life. According to a statement issued by Hunt, the Independent Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) recommended the PBS listing of the medication. It’s not the only medication to see a dramatic price reduction in recent times.
Last month, Hunt announced the price of 226 popular medicines had been reduced, benefiting more than 800,000 people. During that price-slash, high blood medication, epilepsy and neuropathic medication, and drugs to control glaucoma all had their costs reduced, saving patients around $200 a year.
In addition, a further 300 medicine brands dropped their prices by 40 per cent in April, benefiting people living with high blood pressure, depression, digestive disorders and even those living with certain types of cancer. The Government also announced in March it would subsidise the costs for 11 other medicines used to treat cancer, arthritis, diabetes, asthma and eye disease, saving these patients hundreds, and in many cases thousands of dollars per year.