The Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) has announced their recommendation for Shingrix®, a non-live vaccine for the prevention of herpes zoster (shingles) and related complications, to be subsidised for individuals aged 18 years and over at a moderate to high risk of infection, including some people living with MS.
Shingrix® was discussed at all three PBAC meetings this year. The individuals who are currently eligible for Shingrix® via the National Immunisation Program (NIP) include:
- Individuals 65 years of age and older;
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals aged 50 years and older;
- Immunocompromised individuals aged 18 years and older with conditions at ‘high risk’ of shingles. These include haematopoietic stem cell transplant, solid organ transplant, haematological malignancy and advanced or untreated HIV.
At the March meeting, the PBAC deferred the decision to include the broader population of immunocompromised individuals aged 18 years and older at risk of shingles, as this population had not been clearly defined.
At the November meeting, the broader immunocompromised population recommended for Shingrix® access via the NIP had been defined. This population will include people living with MS who are being treated with B and T cell targeted therapies (ocrelizumab, ofatumumab, alemtuzumab, natalizumab), S1P inhibitors (fingolimod, siponimod, ozanimod) and cladribine.
Previously, Zostavax®, which is a live-attenuated vaccine against shingles, was part of the NIP and was not recommended for people who are immunocompromised. Those with contraindications were paying over $300 for each of the two doses of Shingrix®.
Shingrix® has been shown in clinical trials to provide good protection against shingles in people who are severely immunocompromised. Shingles cause significant illness, especially in those over the age of 50 and people who are immunocompromised or immunosuppressed.
The PBAC is required to consider several factors when making recommendations, including the effectiveness, cost of a treatment relative to other available medicines and the cost to the government of a new listing. This is the first step in a process that will now see the decision go before the Federal government for final approval. If approved, a large proportion of people living with MS across Australia will be able to access Shingrix®.
MS Australia has been advocating for the inclusion of Shingrix® on the PBS for the broader immunocompromised population over the age of 18 years. Our submission to the PBAC can be viewed here. Making it affordable and available to people who can benefit from it is vital, reducing the impact of shingles on their lives.
MS Australia supports affordable access to all proven treatment options, helping people with MS access effective therapies suited to their individual circumstances.