News in brief: PBS listing for Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome therapy; ‘Neurologist advised me’ cannabis suspect tells court; Gender discrimination still rife in medicine: RACP

4 Jul 2022

PBS listing for Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome therapy

Amifampridine has been listed on the PBS for the first time for the treatment of Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome.

About 50 patients a year may benefit from the listing of the therapy that until has only been available via the Special Access Scheme (SAS). Without subsidy, patients could pay over $49,000 per year for treatment, according to health minister Mark Butler.

The drug has been used in clinical practice for many years and was granted orphan drug status in the US in 1990 for LEMS.

When it considered a submission for the drug in November 2021 the PBAC acknowledged that PBS listing would improve equity of access for patients, especially for those living in regional areas.

‘Neurologist advised me’ says man arrested over cannabis

An Adelaide man with Parkinson’s who was raided by police for growing cannabis has told a court that he was acting on his neurologist’s advice.

The 70-year old man said he had turned to cultivating his own cannabis at his house because he couldn’t afford the high cost of prescriptions for medical cannabis for his Parkinson’s symptoms.

After being raided and charged with drug trafficking, the man’s lawyer told the court he had grown cannabis after a discussion his neurologist about the lack of effect on his symptoms from traditional PD treatments.

“ (His) neurologist had said, ‘look, if it works it works, if it doesn’t, it doesn’t’, she said.

The man was diagnosed with PD in 2008, and he said the movement disorders forced him out of his job as a carpenter, so he was living on a pension in a housing trust unit, the Advertiser reported.

He was spared a conviction and subject to a 12-month, $500 good-behaviour bond.

A year’s prescription costs for medicinal cannabis would be as much as $20,000, the report noted .

Gender discrimination still rife in medicine: RACP

More than a third of RACP members have experienced gender-based discrimination in the workplace and half say they want the college to do more to address the issue, a survey suggests.

The figures were released last month as part of the RACP’s Gender Equity in Medicine Working Group Report, which recommended the college include combating sexism as a top priority in its official strategic plan.

While it stopped short of suggesting quotas, it also called on the RACP to “develop and implement initiatives” to track and improve the gender distribution of college leadership positions and committees.

“The college needs to play an important role in working with our members and relevant organisations to advocate for gender equity in medicine,” it added, pointing to flexible training and part-time work as key areas of improvement.

Some 1671 RACP members answered the poll, accounting for roughly 6% of the total membership, according to the report.

Over 80% said they thought it was appropriate for the RACP to play a leading role in promoting gender equity.

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