The Turnbull Government remains committed to accepting the expert advice of Australia’s independent Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) without ‘fear or favour’.
PBAC recommendations are made by expert clinicians, pharmacists, health economists and a consumer representative at arms-length from Government, the pharmaceutical sector and other vested interests.
This ensures decisions are made without undue influence or pressure about whether a new medicine really will deliver what it promises patients for the price it costs.
This is the foundation behind the success of Australia’s world-class system for subsiding medicines and we support this process continuing.
The PBAC has considered this matter at its most recent meeting in December and recommended to me that access to the medicine eculizumab (known as Soliris) be extended from 12 to 24 months for patients suffering from a rare medical condition known as acute Haemolytic Uraemic Syndrome (aHUS) before a clinical assessment is required to determine whether or not their treatment should continue.
The PBAC has advised me that the Expert Reference Group of clinicians currently overseeing the application of Soliris against PBAC guidelines has informed them of new clinical evidence which has aided the PBAC’s reconsideration of the conditions of use for this medicine.
I am therefore announcing today I am accepting the PBAC’s recommendation on Soliris in full.
This therefore also includes my support for the PBAC recommendation that it doctors need to provide additional evidence of their patient’s progress every six months that during this 24 month to ensure further evidence can be collected about the effectiveness safety and value of this drug.
This is important given the PBAC’s advice they are still not satisfied the drug company, Alexion, has supplied adequate information to support their claims that all patients should continue remain on this drug for a lifetime.
As Minister for Health, my long standing position is I do not support patients remaining on potentially toxic medications unnecessarily and I commend the PBAC for their commitment to continuing to gather evidence to better understand the application of this medicine for current and future patients.
This is another example of the Australia’s independent PBAC making calm, rational decisions based on the clinical evidence presented to it and demonstrates why it remains a world-leader in the public-subsidisation of medicines.