The Morrison Government is investing $9.2 million to make a life changing medicine for childhood epilepsy available through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), which will help them to control their seizures.

From 1 May 2019, the PBS listing of Vimpat® (lacosamide) will be extended to include treatment of intractable partial epileptic seizures for children aged four to 15 years, in combination with two or more anti-epileptic medicines.

These children suffer seizures that affect only one part of the brain and they experience inadequate seizure control with currently available anti-epileptic drugs. This medicine helps control brain chemicals which send signals to nerves, so that seizures do not happen.

Without the PBS subsidy, patients and their families would otherwise pay more than $4,700 per year for this treatment. They will now pay just $40.30 per script or $6.50 with a concession card, thanks to this listing on the PBS.

Epilepsy is a chronic disorder of the brain that affects people of all ages. There are approximately 14,000 children aged 15 years and under with partial onset seizures and this medicine will help 870 children per year who have trouble in controlling their epilepsy and seizures.

The Morrison Government is continuing to make life changing medicines available to Australians at affordable prices through the PBS. These treatments improve lives. Listing these medicines on the PBS means that these life-changing medications are no longer out of reach for many patients and families.

This listing builds on the $330 million investment in new medicines we announced in the Budget, in particular cancer medicines:

  • Ibrance® will be available on the PBS for the treatment of inoperable advanced metastatic breast cancer. Without subsidy, people would pay $55,000 per year.
  • Bavencio® will be available on the PBS for the treatment of metastatic merkel cell carcinoma, a rare and highly aggressive type of skin cancer. Without subsidy, people would pay $150,000 per year.
  • Besponsa® will be available on the PBS for the treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. Without subsidy, people would pay $120,000 per year.

These new and amended PBS listings will take effect from 1 May 2019. Patients will now be able to access all of these medicines for just $40.30 per script or $6.50 with a concession card. All were recommended by the independent expert Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee.

Unlike Labor, we are listing all medicines recommended by the independent medical experts. In 2011, when Bill Shorten was Assistant Treasurer, Labor stopped listing medicines because they ran out of money as a result of their poor economic management.

Since 2013, the Coalition Government has listed more than 2,000 new or amended items on the PBS. This represents an average of around 31 listings per month – or one each day – at an overall cost of around $10.6 billion.

Our commitment to ensuring that Australians can access affordable medicines, when they need them, remains rock solid.