The first day of the new year will bring with it new hope for Australians fighting one of the most common blood cancers, thanks to a critical new medicines listing on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

From 1 January 2021, Darzalex® (daratumumab) will be listed for the first time in combination with bortezomib and dexamethasone, as a second-line treatment for patients with multiple myeloma – a cancer of the plasma cells.

Around 1,165 patients will benefit from access to this treatment, which might otherwise cost up to $160,000 a year. Patients could now pay as little as $41.30 per script, or $6.60 with a concession card.

Darzalex® mobilises the patient’s own immune system to fight the disease.

This treatment will bring improved clinical outcomes and quality of life for those affected by this disease.

In 2020, it is estimated more than 2,300 new cases of multiple myeloma will be diagnosed in Australia.

About 18,000 people in Australia are living with this serious condition at any one time.

Also from 1 January 2021, Australians living with severe chronic psoriasis will benefit from the first time listing of Otezla® (apremilast) on the PBS.

Around 5,000 patients with severe chronic psoriasis might pay more than $7,500 a year for treatment without this listing.

Around 1.6 million Australians live with some form of psoriasis—a long-term inflammatory skin condition. People who suffer with the most severe and chronic forms of the disease also have an increased risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The source of inflammation in psoriasis is thought to be caused by an enzyme, PDE4. Otezla® works to reduce the PDE4 activity and the subsequent inflammation.

Both Tagrisso® and Otezla® have been recommended by the independent Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC).

Since 2013, the Australian Government has approved over 2,500 new or amended listings on the PBS.

This represents an average of around 30 listings or amendments per month – or one each day – at an overall investment by the Government of close to $12 billion.

Changes to PBS co‑payment and safety net thresholds come into effect on 1 January each year. The changes are calculated in accordance with the National Health Act 1953 and are indexed based on the Consumer Price Index.

The PBS co‑payment for concession card‑holders will remain capped at $6.60 per script in 2021. The safety net threshold for concession card‑holders will also remain at $316.80 per year. When a concession card-holder reaches the Safety Net threshold, they will be eligible for a Safety Net Card and receive PBS medicines free of charge for the rest of 2021.

The maximum co‑payment for general patients will be $41.30 per PBS script in 2021.

The Government’s commitment to ensuring that Australians can access affordable medicines, when they need them, remains rock solid.