Ranibizumab (Lucentis) has been included on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) for the treatment of diabetic macular edema (DME) and retinal vein occlusion (RVO). Lucentis was previously only listed on the PBS for the treatment of age related macular degeneration.
Julie Heraghty, Chief Executive Officer of Macular Disease Foundation Australia, said the listing was “an outstanding result” which would “greatly improve the health outcomes of Australians both now and into the future”.
“Diabetes is now one of the greatest health challenges of our time. Tackling this disease at all levels through effective prevention and treatment strategies is of great importance. I congratulate the federal government in addressing the need for affordable access to this important treatment,” said Ms. Heraghty.
It is estimated that the number of people living with diabetes is set to reach 2.45 million by 2030. During that time it is anticipated the prevalence of DME will rise by 42 per cent in the absence of effective prevention and treatment measures.1
Associate Professor Alex P. Hunyor, retinal specialist and member of the Foundation’s Medical Committee said: “Lucentis has been on the PBS for some time for age-related macular degeneration where it has saved the sight of thousands of Australians. It is an excellent outcome for the eye health of Australians that it is now extended to diabetic macular edema. These people are often grappling with several medical conditions and numerous medications related to their diabetes, so making treatments affordable with PBS reimbursement will be of great importance to help people manage their condition.”
Many people with diabetes have had the disease for several years by the time they are diagnosed. A large proportion of these people will develop potentially blinding diabetic retinopathy within five to 10 years of their diabetes diagnosis.
Ms. Heraghty said the announcement was also important for the treatment of RVO which affects about 1 to 2 per cent of people over 40, although most cases occur in people over 60.
She said saving sight from DME and RVO will avoid the emotional, social and economic costs to the individual and their families and the cost of blindness to Government and the taxpayer.
1. Deloitte Access Economic Pty Ltd, 2015, The Economic Impact of Diabetic Macular Oedema in Australia