People with migraine will be able to gain free access to the CGRP drug fremanezumab (Ajovy) from 1 June via a pharma sponsor program.
While the first CGRP drug to be listed on the PBS galcanezumab (Emgality) became available on 1 June, fremanezumab injection is still awaiting an announcement of a listing date after receiving positive recommendation from the PBAC in April 2020.
The listing is dependent on ongoing price negotiations between the manufacturer Teva and the Department of Health.
In the meantime, Teva has announced that patients with private prescriptions for the therapy will be able to receive it at no cost via a program called Momentum.
Patients enrolled in the Momentum Program will be eligible to receive Ajovy from 1 June 2021 until 31 July 2021, or until it is listed on the PBS, whichever comes first, according to Headache Australia.
The program provides a maximum of two units of the product per patient on a monthly dose and a maximum of three units per patient on a quarterly dose, unless the program is extended beyond 31 July 2021
Patients are advised to contact their neurologist for more information and to obtain a flyer.
According to Headache Australia, there is also an access program for galcanezumab for existing patients who do not fulfill the criteria to be eligible for PBS coverage.
These are that the patient has chronic migraine, three other treatments have failed the patient, and the script is prescribed by a neurologist
It says the treatment for ineligible patients will cost $263 per month. For those who are able to receive PBS coverage, the monthly cost is $41.30. For concession card holders it’s $6.60.
A recent parliamentary inquiry hearing was told about the frustrations that patients feel in being unable to access new medications for migraine.
Dr Raphaella Crosby, Founder and Campaigns Director, Migraine Australia, told the hearing that some patients would respond to one drug and not another, while some patients may require a combination of therapies that are not permitted under PBS criteria.
“Some of the people that are getting a 50% response on one might be curative on another, which is one of the reasons why we need all of them,” she said.
“The other thing that is working really well in combination is the CGRP plus botox. That’s currently prohibited by the PBS listing of Emgality. You can’t be on the CGRP and botox under the PBS; you have to pay for one of them. For people with really significant chronic headache, it works really well in combination,” Dr Crosby told the House of Representatives inquiry “Approval processes for new drugs and novel medical technologies in Australia” on 17 May.