More than 400,000 Australians will benefit from 13 subsidised medicines from September, including patients suffering from multiple sclerosis, cystic fibrosis and various forms of cancer.
Australia’s Department of Health and Ageing has previously faced a backlash from health consumer groups over its decision to defer subsidies for new medicines until it can find savings to fund them.
Minister for Health and Ageing Nicola Roxon said the move will cost the government A$200 million (US$211.6m), and includes the listing of Imclone’s drug Erbitux (cetuximab) to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
Erbitux, which can cost up to $30,000 a year without a subsidy, will assist around 2700 patients who are suffering with late-stage bowel cancer.
Gilenya (fingolimod), manufactured by Novartis, will also be subsidised to assist patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis.
“A number of other new drugs that will also be listed, including new drugs to help patients suffering from Hodgkin disease, enlarged prostate, cystic fibrosis and psychosis,” Roxon said.
However, undisclosed savings must be made in the health budget to generate the funding for these subsidies.