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Australian Government approves amended PBS listing of two MS medications for children with RRMS, from 1 November 2019.

28 October 2019

Today (Monday 28 October 2019) the Federal Health Minister, the Hon Greg Hunt MP announced the (amended) listing of two MS medications for children with relapsing remitting MS (RRMS) on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), from 1 November 2019.

The Federal Health Minister’s media release states that:

…paediatric patients being treated for relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis will benefit from the extension of two medicines listings.

The current PBS listing of Gilenya® (fingolimod) will be amended to include a new strength of this medicine for treatment of patients weighing 40kg or less, including paediatric patients…

…The PBS listing of Tysabri® (natalizumab) will be extended to remove the age restrictions for this medicine, to subsidise use in paediatric patients with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis.

These PBS listings were recommended by the independent expert Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC).

End quotes

Adding a new dosage for fingolimod (Gilenya®) and removing the age restriction for natalizumab (Tysabri®) on the PBS will make a valuable addition to the repertoire of affordable medications available to people with MS, especially children with MS, and their neurologists. It will allow for an appropriate treatment choice to be made according to the efficacy and possible side-effects in relation to an individual’s circumstances and will help to alleviate the economic cost of MS to individuals, their families and the broader community.

MS Australia made submissions to PBAC supporting the listing of both of these medications as the provision of more affordable and accessible treatments can improve the lives of people with MS. These MS medications for children with relapsing remitting MS (RRMS) were recommended for listing on the PBS by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) on Friday 23 August 2019, as outlined in this MS Australia news item.  Recommendations by the PBAC are subject to final approval by the Australian Government.

Following today’s announcement, those eligible for these medications and again quoting from the Minister’s media release:

will pay a maximum of $40.30 per script (or $6.50 for concessional patients)

For MS Australia, a key focus is on people living with MS, being able to effectively manage their condition, and we stand alongside them in seeing this announcement as a positive step.  

As no two people with MS experience the condition in the same way, it’s important that people with MS (including in this instance, paediatric patients with RRMS) discuss any potential treatments with their neurologist or MS nurse.

Like all drugs, Gilenya® and Tysabri® have some side effects and are not suited to all people with MS. More details on this and other important information is outlined in the updated MSA treatment sheets (see link below).

Please consult the paediatric patient with RRMS’ neurologist to see if Gilenya® or Tysabri® is the right treatment for them. Decisions about treatments, taking into consideration the potential benefits and side effects for their individual circumstance, should be made in careful consultation with their healthcare team.

As the national advocacy organisation for people living with MS, MS Australia continues to work with our partner organisations to ensure the MS community and their healthcare teams, have access to the broadest range of affordable treatments as possible.