Progress…but we have a way to go

New Federal Health Minister Peter Dutton announced some great news for the MS community this week by approving the listing of two new treatments on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) – Aubagio and Tecfidera.

Both treatments are oral medications that have proven in clinical trials to limit the impact of MS symptoms and to slow the onset of the disease.

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MS Australia made several submissions in support of these treatments to the body that reviews PBS listings, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee in July, and we are so pleased that following their recommendation, the Minister has approved their listing.

Anecdotally we were also encouraged to hear that the PBAC was impressed with the high quality and quantity of submissions it received in support of these treatments.

Minister Dutton’s announcement is significant because it shows that not only will neurologists and people with MS have greater choice and flexibility in relation to their treatments once Aubagio and Tecfidera come online but also, that he has taken a strong step to indicate that as Health Minister, wherever possible, he will be fast-tracking new treatments to the PBS.

The complexity of MS is such that there is not a ‘one-size fits all’ treatment that is given to everyone with the disease. Instead, neurologists and doctors need to weigh up a patient’s medical history and match these with the potential side effects of each treatment to ensure the recommended option is not only safe, but effective. Unfortunately this can take some time to find the right mix. Ultimately, having two new  treatments that help to manage symptoms of relapsing-remitting MS and also delay the onset of the disease is fantastic progress but we still have more work to do.

MS Research is uncovering more information about the disease every day that is leading to the development of more treatments. MS Australia will always strive to lobby for these treatments to be made more affordable and accessible to the MS community so that people with MS can minimise the influence of the disease on their every day.

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