News

PBAC defers PrEP

 

PAN  is dismayed the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) has again decided not to recommend PrEP to be subsidised under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
It was revealed earlier today that neither of the two products approved for use as PrEP would be recommended to be subsidised under the PBS. Gilead’s Truvada and Mylan’s Ricovir-EM have been approved for use as PrEP since May 2016, however affordable access to both drugs has been knocked back… for now.

What is PBAC and the PBS?

Some medications take millions of dollars to research, develop and produce, and end up costing us – the consumer – hundreds of dollars a bottle (or even hundreds of dollars a pill).

The Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee is a committee which meets a couple of times a year, to discuss which new medications should be subsidised by the federal government and placed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme – so that the government wears the majority of the cost, making the medication affordable.

What is PBAC and the PBS?

Some medications take millions of dollars to research, develop and produce, and end up costing us – the consumer – hundreds of dollars a bottle (or even hundreds of dollars a pill).

The Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee is a committee which meets a couple of times a year, to discuss which new medications should be subsidised by the federal government and placed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme – so that the government wears the majority of the cost, making the medication affordable.

What happened?

At the July 2017 PBAC meeting two PrEP medications were assessed for their need, suitability, cost, and a whole bunch of other complicated parameters which basically assess whether it is in the government’s best interest to fund the medication.

Both Truvada and Ricovir-EM, made by Gilead and Mylan respectively, have been approved for use as PrEP and were looked at during the meeting. While last time Truvada was on the table, it was knocked back – this time both medications were deferred.

What does deferred mean?

The PBAC can either recommend, reject, or defer a product. If it is recommended, the PBAC will advice the Health Minister to subsidise the medication. If it rejects it, it doesn’t mean the medication doesn’t work, it simply means it’s not cost effective or doesn’t benefit the community enough to warrant the government pay for it. There are a lot of variables that PBAC consider when assessing the medications.

Lastly, a medication can be deferred. Essentially the PBAC defers because there isn’t enough evidence to support the medication going on the PBS, but there might be. It isn’t a no, it’s a ‘ go away and come back with more evidence’ so they can show how many people are likely to take this medication if we list it, and how much it’s going to cost us.

What next?

Because this isn’t a no, both companies can come back quickly with more data (if they can wrangle it) to bring to PBAC for reassessment. A special meeting of PBAC can be called, otherwise they may need to wait until the next meeting in either November, or March if they need more time.
To keep updated on what’s happening, make sure to bookmark our news page, and keep an eye on our Facebook group www.facebook.com/groups/prepaccessnow to get all the latest PrEP news as it happens.

So, no cheap PrEP?

Not for now. PrEP costs you the same amount it did before. It’s still a barrier for a lot of people to afford if they aren’t on one of the state based clinical trials where medication is cheap or free

In the meantime people can still import PrEP at a reasonable cost and we have more and more suitable PrEP GPs joining our listing every week.
If you are looking to apply for free PrEP you can, at http://pan.org.au/assistance-scheme/ and we will contact everyone via email as soon as PrEP becomes affordable, and let you know how you can get it locally.