Asthma

PBS listings approved for novel asthma and IPF treatments


Another anti-interleukin-5 monoclonal antibody drug, benralizumab (Fasenra), has been recommended for PBS listing for the treatment of uncontrolled severe eosinophilic asthma.

At its March 2018 meeting the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) recommended the Section 100 (Highly Specialised Drug Program) Authority required (in writing) listing of AstraZeneca’s subcutaneous formulation of benralizumab as an alternative to mepolizumab (Nucala) for the treatment of uncontrolled severe eosinophilic asthma.

“In making this recommendation, the PBAC noted the clinical need for additional treatment options in uncontrolled severe asthma,” its decision statement said.

The committee also recommended changing the restriction for biologics for severe asthma to reduce the duration of time that a patient must be under the care of the same physician from 12 months to six months.

“The PBAC considered that this change may improve continuity of care and access to effective treatment when patients with uncontrolled severe asthma change physicians,” it noted.

However the committee deferred making a decision on a request to remove the six month treatment break when switching between different biologics, saying this might have flow-on implications “and would require consideration of issues around re-trialling of the same biologic, switching between and cycling of biologics in asthma.”

And with Australia hit by a global supply problems for EpiPens, the PBAC also recommended the temporary PBS listing of a generic alternative adrenaline autoinjector product for treatment of anaphylaxis.

The Emerade (adrenaline 300mcg and 150mcg) auto-injectors will be available on the PBS until 31 August 2018 to address the current shortage problems for EpiPen and EpiPen Junior, the PBAC stated.

A new higher dose form of pirfenidone (Esbriet) was recommended for PBS listing for treatment of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). The listing of a 801mg pirfenidone tablet for continuing treatment could potentially reduce the pill burden for patients, the PBAC said.

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