News in brief: Another SGLT2 inhibitor subsidised for heart failure; Unplugged endocrinologist has to dump electric vehicle; Prescription costs eased with PBS Safety Net changes


Another SGLT2 inhibitor subsidised for heart failure

The SGLT-2 inhibitor empagliflozin  (Jardiance) has been listed on the PBS for the treatment of adults with symptomatic heart failure with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF), irrespective of the presence of type 2 diabetes.

The drug, which is already subsidised for treatment of patients with T2D, has been listed on the basis of studies such as the EMPEROR-Reduced Trial that showed the addition of empagliflozin to standard of care for patients with HFrEF reduced the relative risk of the composite of cardiovascular death or hospitalisation due to heart failure by 25%.

The listing was welcomed by cardiologist Professor Andrew Coats, President of the Heart Failure Association, who said it had the potential “to make a significant difference to the lives of people with HFrEF, a disease where mortality rates remain high and quality-of-life is often poor.”

“Heart failure with reduced ejection fraction is a very serious and very common illness. One-in four people die within a year of diagnosis, while fatigue, shortness of breath and difficulty walking or climbing stairs can have a profound impact on quality-of-life,” he said.

Another SGLT2 inhibitor, dapagliflozin (Forxiga) was listed on the PBS for the treatment of heart failure in January 2022.


Unplugged endocrinologist has to dump electric vehicle

Sydney endocrinologist Dr Akhil Gupta has been forced to dispose of his electric vehicle after being refused permission to use a power point in the garage of his shared apartment block.

Dr Gupta said he had to revert to an old petrol-powered Mercedes Benz after the strata committee at his residence blocked his access to a power socket that he had been using to recharge his Hyundai IONIQ.

He told Nine News that he’d offered to pay for the electricity he used because without the power point he needed to drive around looking for a recharging station in the city and spend an hour out of his day waiting for the battery recharge.

“It added such a huge amount of time onto my commute to the hospitals I work in, and my 10-hour working day, and it seemed ridiculous when there was a perfectly good working power point in our garage where I could charge up the car overnight. But when the strata sealed it up to stop anyone having access to it, I had no choice,” he said.

The strata committee said it could not make an exception to the rules for a single tenant.


Prescription costs eased with PBS Safety Net changes

Patients with chronic diseases will have the financial burden for medication costs eased by an announcement of the lowering of PBS safety net thresholds in the 2022 Budget.

From July 1 the threshold for access for general patients will be lowered by the equivalent of two scripts, from $1,542.10 to $1,457.10, a saving of up to $85. This means that after the equivalent of about 34 full-priced general co-payments, general patients pay only the concessional co-payment of $6.80 per PBS script for the balance of the year.

For concession card holders, the threshold will be reduced by the equivalent of 12 scripts from $326.40 to $244.80, a saving of up to $81.60. When concession card holders reach the safety net threshold, after 36 full-priced concessional scripts, they will receive PBS medicines at no charge for the balance of the year.

The measure is costing $525.3 million over four years from 2022–23.

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