Cystic Fibrosis Suffers in Australia to Get Cheaper Drugs

October 22, 2019 Updated: October 22, 2019

Over 1,400 Australians with cystic fibrosis will be able to buy medications at a significantly reduced cost after Health Minister Greg Hunt added the Symdeko drug to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme on Oct. 20.

The medicine Symdeko will be listed on the PBS from Dec. 1 for cystic fibrosis patients over 12 who have specific gene mutations.

The medication Orkambi, which is currently listed, will also become available on the PBS to younger children aged two to five.

Instead of paying up to A$250,000 per year for the medications, cystic fibrosis sufferers and their families can expect to pay a maximum of A$40.30 per script, or A$6.50 on concession.

“That means real hope, quality of life, extended life and an extraordinary outcome for wonderful cystic fibrosis patients and their families,” Hunt told reporters in Melbourne.

Patients can access the drugs immediately after the manufacturer agreed to a government request for early access.

“This is expected to provide new or improved treatment options for over 1400 patients,” he said.

His federal Labor counterpart said Hunt has been “dragged kicking and screaming” to make this new listing.

“While better late than never, the seven-month wait that sufferers of cystic fibrosis have endured is deeply regrettable,” Bowen said in a statement on Oct. 19.

One in 2500 babies are born in Australia with cystic fibrosis, a progressive, genetic disease that causes repeated lung infections and gradually limits the ability to breathe.

There is currently no cure and the average life expectancy is 38.

By Colin Brinsden