End to ‘postcode lottery’ for access to SCIg infusion therapy

Medicines

By Michael Woodhead

8 Jul 2024

People with primary immunodeficiency will no longer face a ‘postcode lottery’ for access to subcutaneous immunoglobulin (SCIg) infusion therapy, a patient representative group says.

Advocacy group AusPIPS said it welcomed a move to provide Medicare funding to cover SCIg products, consumables and supported training for patients wishing to access home-based subcutaneous treatment as an alternative to clinic based intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg) treatment.

The move follows a decision in December 2023 (link here) by the Independent Health and Ageing Care Pricing Authority (IHACPA) to include SCIg in the Pricing Framework for Australian Public Hospital Services 2024-2025.

After submissions by advocacy groups, IHACPA agreed to include home delivered SCIg in the Tier 2 Non-Admitted Services Classification.

Jackie Murphy, President of AusPIPS, said that until now access to SCIg therapy for patients with primary immunodeficiency depended on where they lived.

“Patients have faced access challenges, including higher out-of-pocket costs. This [decision] will enable equitable access to SCIg across Australia,” she said.

Ms Murphy said that some patients preferred home-based SCIg administration over day clinic-based IVIg despite the more frequent dosing (weekly vs monthly) schedule.

At-home administration gave patients more control over treatment choices, including the timing of treatment and the site of infusion, she said.

The shorter dosing intervals meant that maintenance of IgG levels in the patient’s blood were often more stable, she added, this reducing the number and severity of infectious episodes and improving quality of life, leading to better outcomes and better quality of life.

“When I switched to SCIg from IVIg, I experienced a dramatic improvement in quality of life – I woke up three weeks after I started infusing lg subcutaneously and didn’t feel like rubbish anymore,” she said.

“With this being a common experience among patients who wouldn’t want others who qualify to also have the same treatment choice in Australia? This is why as a patient and as President of AusPIPS, I along with the AusPIPS committee have advocated for equitable access to SCIg across Australia.”

“I want to thank Health Minister Mark Butler and his department for addressing this specific inequity in the postcode lottery for primary and secondary immunodeficiency which affects newborns to adult patients like me,” she added.

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