New PBS Listings in Australia Will Lower Cost of Kesimpta for Patients

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by Mary Chapman |

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People in Australia with multiple sclerosis (MS) and certain other medical conditions will have access to new and expanded medications — including Kesimpta — now listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

Having these medications on the PBS will lower treatment costs for MS patients and their families, Australian government officials said in a press release.

“Without PBS subsidies, many Australians would be thousands of dollars out of pocket,” said Greg Hunt, Australia’s minister for health and aged care.

“Instead, they’ll only pay $41.30 per script, or $6.60 with a concession card, for these medicines,” he said.

The new listings will include Novartis’ Kesimpta (ofatumumab), used to treat adults with relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS), the most common form of the disease. According to the government, RRMS at some point affects 70-75% of people with the neurodegenerative disorder.

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Kesimpta has been shown to reduce relapse rates and the risk of disability progression in MS patients.

Without the PBS subsidy, some 500 Australians would likely pay more than $28,000 annually for MS treatment, the government said.

The PBS — part of Australia’s National Medicines Policy —  is a government program that subsidizes prescription medications for Australian citizens, permanent residents, and some international visitors.

The new listings were recommended by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC), an independent expert body appointed by the Australian government, in keeping with its chief role. New PBS listings also will include medicines for people in Australia with the blood cancer multiple myeloma, and with the eye diseases macular degeneration and keratitis.

More than 25,600 Australians live with MS — the most commonly acquired neurological disease in younger adults — and around 2 million individuals are diagnosed globally each year. On average, patients are diagnosed between ages 20 and 40, and women are involved in three times as many cases as men.

“Since 2013, the Coalition Government had approved more than 2,700 new or amended listings on the PBS,” Hunt said. “This represents an average of around 30 listings or amendments per month — or one each day — at an overall investment by the government of $13.8 billion.”

The antibody Kesimpta is touted as the first MS therapy targeting B-cells that can be administered at home. It works against the CD20 protein, found on the surface of the B-cells, which are certain types of immune cells involved in nerve cell damage.

In addition to Australia, Kesimpta is approved in the United States, Canada, Switzerland, Australia, and Japan, among other countries. The European Commission approved the medication in March for the EU.

According to Hunt, the “government’s commitment to ensuring Australians can access affordable medicines when they need them remains rock solid.”

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