Respiratory drugs highlighted in PBS costs report


By Michael Woodhead

18 Jan 2018

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 rankedĀ  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.

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