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News & Trends - Pharmaceuticals

First medicinal cannabis drug reimbursed in epilepsy

Health Industry Hub | May 5, 2021 |
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Pharma News: In a historic first, Australians living with a rare form of epilepsy will have access to a medicinal cannabis drug, which is being listed on Australia’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) for the first time.

From 1 May 2021, Australians living with Dravet syndrome, will have access to Epidyolex (cannabidiol), a new treatment used in combination with at least two other anti-epileptic medicines on the PBS.

Epidyolex is only the second medicinal cannabis drug registered for supply in Australia, and the first one to be subsidised by the Australian Government on the PBS.

The move brings the industry a huge step forward to becoming more affordable and accessible to patients around Australia. Even outside of subsidised treatment, we’ve already seen a 15-fold increase in cannabis utilisation over the last two years, according to FreshLeaf Analytics’ H1 2021 report. 

It is estimated that around 116 patients each year will benefit from the listing of Epidyolex, who might otherwise pay more than $24,000 per year for the treatment.

Cassandra Hunt, Managing Director of CA Clinics commented “The availability of Epidyolex on the PBS is great news for sufferers of Dravet syndrome, and sets a precedent for more affordable patient access to future medicinal cannabis products registered in the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods.” 

Dr Mark Hardy, Addiction Specialist and CA Clinics Medical Director added “This is a huge jump for Australia’s medicinal cannabis industry. As an Authorised Prescriber, my role is limited in what I can do for patients who cannot afford these treatments. Where indicated, I must currently direct them to other PBS listed products, some of which have already been tried without success, or carry unacceptable side effects. I hope this creates an environment in which more medicinal cannabis products could be considered for financial support by the Australian Government, and in turn open accessibility to a greater cohort of patients.” 


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