Fixed dose combination inhalers for COPD have been flagged as high growth prescription items for the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
In its annual expenditure report, the PBS highlights the LABA/LAMA combo tiotropium/olodaterol (Spiolto Respimat) as one of the products with the highest growth in prescription volume, with numbers increasing by 760% from 9,985 to 85,840 scripts between 2015/16 and 2016/17.
Spending on the inhaler to the PBS increased from $800,000 to $6.9 million over the same period, making it one of the highest growth items in terms of cost.
The combination inhaler fluticasone/vilanterol (Breo Ellipta) is also on the list of the top 35 PBS-listed drugs for cost growth. Spending on the inhaler increased by 57% from $10 million to $15.8 million in the last year, with a rise in prescription volume from 205,000 to 353,000 scripts between 2015/16 and 2016/17.
The ICS/LABA inhaler fluticasone/salmeterol (Seretide) was one of the most costly drugs for the PBS, ranking 13th in terms of costs to government at $132 million in 2016/17.
Budesonide-eformoterol (Symbicort) combination inhalers ranked 16th in costs to the PBS, with almost $92 million in spending, while tiotropium (Spiriva) ranked 18th with $84 million costs to the PBS.
However there was minimal overall growth in prescribing of respiratory drugs on the PBS last year, with 11.7 million prescriptions out of a total of 200 million prescriptions for the whole PBS system.
The cost of respiratory drugs to the PBS also grew only marginally, at a rate of 1.5% to $582 million out of a total PBS spend of $12 billion for the year.