Life-saving drug to hit shelves after massive fight
LESS than a month remains until life-changing cystic fibrosis drug Orkambi hits shelves.
The medication significantly extends the lives of people with CF.
For years, Bundaberg's Zwarts family have been campaigning to have the drug, a yearly course of which costs $250,000, placed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
Cystic fibrosis sufferer Sabrina Zwarts said "it was about time" when she heard the news Orkambi would go on the PBS from October 1.
Orkambi will be listed on the PBS for all patients over 6 who have the most the most common form of CF.
Federal Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt said the listing would provide more than 1200 Australian patients, and their families, with a longer and better life.
"I know we have local parents who have been advocating for this medicine to be listed and I congratulate them for their tenacity. As a parent, I too would fight to access medication that could give my sick child a better life," he said.
Since coming into government in 2013, the Coalition has added more than $9 billion worth of new medicines to the PBS.
"Unlike Labor, we are subsidising all drugs recommended by the independent medical experts. We are now listing a new or amended medicine on the PBS on average every day of the year," Mr Pitt said.
Health Minister Greg Hunt also said from the start of September all eligible patients could access the medicine immediately with Vertex agreeing to the government's request to provide compassionate free access until the medicine is listed on October 1.
Patients will pay a maximum of $39.50 a script, or $6.40 with concessions.
"This is a landmark listing and we know how much it means to the entire cystic fibrosis community," Mr Hunt said.
"This medicine has been out of reach for many Australian families until now," he said.
"It is truly life-changing for so many families and it will deliver joy, happiness and the hope of a better life."
"We moved as quickly as possible to fund Orkambi following a positive recommendation from the independent Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee."
The PBAC is independent of government. By law the Federal Government cannot list a new medicine on the PBS without a positive recommendation from PBAC.