REBIF (interferon beta-1a) and AVONEX (interferon beta-1a) are currently used for the treatment of Australians living with relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS), including clinically isolated syndrome (CIS). Recently, there were some changes announced to their listing on the Pharmaceuticals Benefits Scheme (PBS).
Changes to REBIF
Newly diagnosed people with MS are no longer able to commence treatment with REBIF, however, people with MS who currently have a prescription for REBIF will continue to have them filled at the current PBS-listed co-payment price until 31 March 2023. From 1 April 2023, REBIF will no longer be available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) for Australians living with MS. The removal of REBIF from the PBS means that this treatment will only be accessible in Australia through private scripts and will not be subsidised or covered by the PBS co-payment from 1 April 2023.
Changes to AVONEX
Newly diagnosed people with MS are no longer able to commence treatment with AVONEX, however, people with MS who currently have a prescription for AVONEX will continue to have them filled at the current PBS-listed co-payment price until 31 March 2023. From 1 April 2023, AVONEX will no longer be available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) for Australians living with MS. The removal of AVONEX from the PBS means people with MS will no longer be able to access this treatment from 1 April 2023. AVONEX will continue to be supplied to people with CIS until 30 June 2023 to allow them to find a suitable alternative treatment option. From 1 July 2023, people with CIS will no longer be able to access AVONEX.
What should people on these treatments do?
People with MS who are currently on these treatments are strongly advised to book an appointment with their treating specialist, so they can determine the best treatment options available to ensure a safe transition onto a different medication and to continue treating their MS after 31 March 2023.
CEO of MS Australia, Rohan Greenland, said MS Australia understands that while this may be a concern to those people currently using this medication, earlier medications can often be superseded by more modern options and resources reallocated to ensure optimal treatment for all people with MS.
To read more about REBIF or AVONEX, please visit MS Australia’s webpage about disease-modifying therapies for MS and scroll down to AVONEX.
MS Australia does not recommend any specific treatment for people living with MS. Decisions about any treatments, taking into consideration the potential benefits and side effects for each individual’s circumstances, should be made in careful consultation with the person’s neurologist.