Drug Subsidy Brings Relief To Suffering Asthmatics

20 December 2016
A $130 million scheme announced by the Australian Government should hopefully bring some relief to suffering asthmatics.

From 1 February 2017, Spiriva Respimat and Nucala, two common asthma preventative medications, will be subsidised for up to four years, bringing relief to many of the 2.5 million Australians who suffer from asthma.

Minister for Health and Aged Care Sussan Ley said that asthma is one of the most common chronic long-term illnesses, and today’s announcement will be enormously beneficial to those who suffer from the severe strains of the disease.

“I have been advised by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) that many asthma patients have their condition under control using medicines already available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), but there is a high clinical need for a new add-on medication,” she said.

“Despite the availability of several medicines for asthma on the PBS, many patients still experience uncontrolled symptoms. These drugs will really make a difference for the 20 to 40 per cent of asthmatics who need extra help and extra medication, for whom the normal daily treatments don’t work very well.”


How much will asthma sufferers save?

The subsidy for Spiriva Respimat will aim to save patients around $700/year, benefitting approximately 26,000 people in 2017 and increasing to around 67,000 patients per year. The subsidy for Nucala will aim to benefit 370 people, who would otherwise pay $21,000/year for this treatment.

National Asthma Australia Council Chief Executive, Kristine Whorlow, said while fatality rates had dropped, about 400 people in Australia still die every year from asthma every year.

She feared too many asthmatics were relying on reliever medication, rather than preventative drugs.

“Reliever medications Ventolin, Bricanyl, Asmol, and Aeromere are good to use in an emergency, but the important medicines prescribed for you are long-term preventer medications,” she said in a recent statement.

The introduction of the $130 million subsidy will help to alleviate some of these issues, by providing easier access to preventative drugs for long-term sufferers.

Ms Whorlow said the eight deaths that occurred during last month’s thunderstorms in Melbourne truly highlights just how severe the condition is, and the importance of taking necessary precautions, whether you suffer from severe asthma or not.

“It is critical that patients with asthma make it a priority to work with their doctor and put in place, or update, their individual Asthma Action Plan in the event of an emergency.”


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