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News & Trends - Pharmaceuticals

Government launches new clinics for women’s health

Health Industry Hub | March 24, 2023 |

Pharma News: As part of the federal government’s $58.3 million package for endometriosis and pelvic pain announced in the 2022-23 Budget, Australia’s first Endometriosis and Pelvic Pain Clinics are being launched. The 20 national clinics will provide expert, multidisciplinary services and care for women with endometriosis and pelvic pain.

In 2018 the parliament released and adopted the National Action Plan for Endometriosis with bipartisan support.

Dr Mike Freelander MP, Federal Member for Macarthur, addressed the Parliament earlier this week and talked about one of his daughters who has suffered from endometriosis. He said “In the current days with Medicare premised on short consultations, it’s sometimes difficult for doctors to diagnose endometriosis. But it remains a very common cause of infertility, a common case of days off work. Unless it is recognised, the treatment is very ineffective.”

Access Australia, Australia’s National Infertility Network, and Merck partnered to launch a new consumer podcast series on 1st March with an episode dedicated to addressing the infertility issues for endometriosis patients.

Lisa Marie Chesters MP, Chair of Standing Committee on Employment, Education and Training, said “This government committed to addressing endometriosis in its 2023 budget, and expanded the budget to $58.3 million to support more initiatives to help improve endometriosis diagnosis and primary care support. This includes funding MRIs for women who suspect that they have severe endometriosis that could be affecting their fertility. Another way in which the government is helping is by funding the endometriosis living guideline support and new and ongoing research into the diagnosis of the condition. This funding will continue support of EndoZone, a digital platform that provides patients with access to evidence based information.”

The new Endometriosis and Pelvic Pain Clinics will each receive more than $700,000 over four years, to support hiring specialised staff, including nurse practitioners and allied health professionals, investment in equipment or fit-outs such as pelvic physiotherapy areas, as well as resources, training and development. Working in existing general practice, the clinics will reduce diagnostic delays and promote early access to multidisciplinary intervention.

As part of Endometriosis Awareness Month, Endometriosis Australia hosted it inaugural breakfast at Parliament House on 23 March 2023. The event was co-hosted by the Parliamentary Friends of Endometriosis Awareness Group, Co-Chairs Nola Marino MP and Lisa Chesters MP, both of whom are Endometriosis Australia Ambassadors.        

Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care, Ged Kearney MP, said “Too many women suffer for years with what we know can be debilitating conditions. They deserve to have their concerns be taken seriously with better access to specialised care.

“These Clinics are about providing women with an accessible front door to the care that they need. Gathering expertise under one roof, fostering that knowledge to improve diagnosis and services, having referral pathways in place – these are all crucial elements to getting the support that women need right.

“The recognition of endometriosis and pelvic pain as serious conditions has been a long and hard-fought battle from fierce advocates in the sector and in our communities. I want to say to those people – thank you and we’re listening.”

The endometriosis market has long been dominated by generic and off-label medications. AbbVie’s Orilissa (elagolix) launched more recently in the US was the first endometriosis-specific medication in over a decade. This gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) antagonist was the first of its class, promising a more effective side-effect profile compared to the GnRH agonists such as Zoladex (goserelin) and Synarel (nafarelin acetate). These medications are associated with high bone mineral density (BMD) loss as well as menopause-like symptoms such as hot flashes.

Laparoscopic surgical intervention is also an option for many patients.

Endometriosis affects at least 1 in 9 Australian women and can have an extensive, devastating impact on the daily lives of sufferers. With those suffering waiting on average of seven years before diagnosis. Pelvic pain can be similarly complex and debilitating, with the impact being felt beyond individuals as it is estimated to cost the Australian economy $6 billion a year.  

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