The Hon. Greg Hunt MP
Minister for Health and Aged Care
20 February 2022
From 1 March 2022, Australians with chronic graft versus host disease (cGVHD), a complication that can occur when patients undergoing cancer treatment receive transplanted stem cells from a donor, will have access to a new treatment through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
cGVHD is a complication of allogeneic stem cell transplant, that occurs when donor bone marrow or stem cells start recognising the recipient’s body as foreign and start attacking the recipient’s body cells.
This causes damage in the body, especially to the liver, skin and gut. cGVHD can appear immediately or any time after a patient’s allogeneic transplant.
Uvadex® (methoxsalen) will be used as part of an integrated, closed system extracorporeal photopheresis (ECP) service for the treatment of cGVHD.
ECP is a type of treatment which removes some of a patient’s blood using a machine. The machine separates the white blood cells—then red blood cells and plasma go back into the body.
The white blood cells are mixed with Uvadex®, then exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light and put back into the patient.
The listing of Uvadex® on the PBS will be extended for the treatment of steroid dependant, steroid intolerant or steroid refractory chronic cGVHD.
Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said the listing of Uvadex® on the PBS will benefit around 180 Australians a year.
“Without PBS subsidy, Australians with cGVHD could pay more than $9,200 per course of treatment, instead, from March 1, they’ll be able to access it for $42.50 per script or just $6.80 for people with a concession card,” Minister Hunt said.
“Since 2013, the Coalition Government had approved more than 2,800 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 $14.3 billion.”
Concurrently, two new items will be introduced on the Medicare Benefits Schedule (PBS) for the use of ECP in combination with Uvadex® to treat this condition, as recommended by the Medical Services Advisory Committee.
This PBS listing has been recommended by the independent Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee.
The Morrison Government’s commitment to ensuring Australians can access affordable medicines, when they need them, remains rock solid.
This is a strong contrast to Albanese and Labor, who when last in Government stopped listing essential medicines and treatments on the PBS.