Federal government subsidises new HIV drug on PBS

health minister greg hunt pbs hiv treatment drug
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Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has announced HIV treatment drug Dovato will be listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, making it a more affordable for Australians living with HIV.

“From December 1, Australians living with HIV will save more than $8,500 a year with the listing of a new combination medicine on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme,” Hunt said.

“It is estimated that 850 Australians with HIV will benefit from the listing of Dovato (dolutegravir with lamivudine) on the PBS, which will provide more choice for them in how they can manage their HIV.

“With the PBS subsidy, people living with HIV will pay just $40.30 per script, or $6.50 with a concession card for Dovato.”

Dovato contains two active ingredients that are used to treat HIV infection: dolutegravir and lamivudine in a single tablet form.

The drug offers effective treatment at a reduced dose, potentially meaning fewer side effects in those taking it.

An ‘important new option’ for Australians with HIV

National Association for People with HIV Australia (NAPWHA) spokesperson Robert Mitchell welcomed the drug’s PBS listing, which he said is an important new option.

ViiV Healthcare, the developer of Dovato, found in its Positive Perspectives study that about 72 per cent of those are concerned about the long-term effects of treatment.

“Successful management of HIV cannot ignore the importance of maintaining a good quality of life,” Mitchell said.

“In Australia, it’s not about just surviving anymore, it’s about thriving. Innovation in treatments responding to the contemporary challenges of PWHIV is always important to our community.”

University of Adelaide Professor Mark Boyd said, “This is the first generation of people being diagnosed with HIV that will have access to a two-drug regimen – representing a paradigm shift in how HIV is managed in Australia.

“We know that people who begin HIV treatment early in their infection have better health outcomes than those who begin HIV treatment at a later stage.

“Today’s PBS announcement is based on evidence from two large clinical trials which show that HIV can be effectively controlled and sustained with two drugs instead of three or more.

“[This gives] people who are diagnosed and their clinicians a new option of avoiding additional toxicity and potential drug interactions from a third medicine.”

Health Minister announces additional funding ahead of World AIDS Day

At a World AIDS Day event in Canberra on Wednesday, Health Minister Greg Hunt also announced extended funding to six national peak organisations, providing almost $3 million for 2020-21.

Hunt said Australia is aiming to be one of the first countries in the world to eliminate new HIV transmissions.

“Australia continues to be a world leader in the response to HIV. The number of new diagnoses today is at its lowest in nearly 20 years,” he said.

“Our success is built on a model of partnership between government, people living with HIV, community based organisations, health professionals and researchers.”

World AIDS Day is held on December 1 each year. It’s a day to show support for people living with HIV and to remember and honour those who we have lost.

The theme of World AIDS Day 2019 is “Every Journey Counts”.

In Queensland, there’s events planned all over the state to mark World AIDS Day.

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