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News & Trends - Pharmaceuticals

Diabetes community voice big concerns over medicine withdrawal from PBS

Health Industry Hub | March 3, 2023 |

Pharma News: A diabetes medicine will be removed from the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) from 1 April 2023, making it unaffordable for many diabetes sufferers.

15,000 people using Novo Nordisk’s Fiasp, an ultra-rapid insulin to manage type 1 diabetes are being urged to contact their doctor to find an alternative.

Fiasp was first listed on the PBS in 2019. The change means that the yearly out of pocket cost for patients will increase by more than $2000 from April. There will be limited availability for people who choose to access it via a private prescription, however, supply will not be guaranteed.

Diabetes Australia said in a statement “We understand this is causing distress for some people living with diabetes who currently use this medication. We have conveyed our concerns to Novo Nordisk and the Government, and are continuing these discussions to see what can be done to reduce the impact on people living with diabetes who are using this medication.”

Novo Nordisk has confirmed that offering the drug on the PBS was no longer commercially viable because of federal government price cuts.

A federal government spokesperson said Health Minister Mark Butler was made aware of Novo Nordisk’s decision to remove the medicine.

“The minister’s office is now working with the department and Novo Nordisk,” the spokesperson said.

“We understand the decision by Novo Nordisk to remove Fiasp from the PBS has been concerning for many Australians living with diabetes, and their families.”

Grassroots advocacy efforts by the diabetes community is making a lot of noise. In a petition with over 10,000 patient signatures, Australia’s diabetes community wants “diabetes stakeholders including pharma companies to know that they will not tolerate businesses supporting profit more than people! The Australian diabetes community will keep advocating until we witness no evidence of inequitable access to diabetes services, clinicians, technology and therapies.”

In contrast to older types of insulin, which will remain available on the PBS, ultra-rapid insulin regulates blood sugar more quickly. The alternative to Fiasp is Eli Lilly’s Lyumjev which is not yet available in Australia.

Adocia, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, is progressing its phase 3 study of BioChaperone Lispro which also belongs to the last generation of ultra-rapid insulins together with Fiasp and Lyumjev.

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