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New diabetes medicines hit PBS

Tens of thousands of Australians with diabetes will benefit from new medicines that will be placed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme from April 1.

A super-strength insulin called Toujeo is among several treatments that will become more affordable for those living with diabetes.

Toujeo (insulin glargine) is the longest acting insulin that is currently available on the Australian market for people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

“About half of the insulin made by the body is used to control blood glucose levels outside of meal times. So we do need, if you like, an insulin that is long-acting, stable, very consistent in its effect and Toujeo falls in that category,” Professor Stephen Twigg, RPA Hospital’s Head of Endocrinology, said.

Professor Twigg said there’s a lesser risk of hypoglycaemia, or low blood glucose levels, with Toujeo compared to other insulin products.

From April, adult patients will only need to pay up to $39.50 per script or $6.40 for concession holders. Currently, the cost of a private script is about $700.

Chris Romanus, 61, has been living with type 2 diabetes for three decades and relies on insulin to keep his blood sugar levels steady.

He has been using Toujeo for two years, which involves a painless injection each morning.

“You don’t get that up and down as much as I used to before,” Mr Romanus said.

He said the latest announcement will benefit many more patients.

“I think it’s fantastic and I can imagine it helping a lot of other people,” he said.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has also announced two new listings for people with uncontrolled type 2 diabetes.

Glyxambi (empagliflozin/linagliptin) and Qtern (dapagliflozin/saxagliptin) are taken in tablet form and are used on top of diet and exercise.

There are also expanded listings for eight other diabetes medications.

“As of the 1st of April, we’ll be a world leader in diabetes treatment,” federal health minister Greg Hunt said.

“What this means is that medicines that would’ve been beyond the reach, beyond the ability of so many Australians to afford, will now be available and affordable,” Mr Hunt said.

He said more than 170,000 Australians are expected to benefit from the new listings.

Monash University’s Professor Mark Cooper said new medicines were needed to help people who were struggling to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.

“We know that approximately half of all Australians taking tablets for type 2 diabetes have higher than recommended blood sugar levels,” Professor Cooper said.

“Alarmingly, the risk of diabetic complications like blindness, kidney failure and limb amputations jumps around 40 percent with every one percentage point increase in blood sugar above recommended levels.”

“It is vital that all Australians living with type 2 diabetes regularly monitor their blood sugar and talk with their doctor about treatments to help them maintain or achieve blood sugar targets,” he said.


* Toujeo, Glyxambi and Qtern


* Forxiga, Xigduo XR, Jardiance, Jardiamet, Trajenta, Trajentamet, Galvus and Galvumet

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