Migraine sufferers fuming as drug subsidy knocked back
Migraine sufferers have slammed Australia's medicine subsidy agency for failing to cover the cost of a revolutionary drug they say can give them their life back.
Pharmaceutical giant Novartis has withdrawn latest its bid to gain a subsidy for its migraine prevention drug Aimovig after its first two applications were refused by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee.
The $800 a month drug was set to be considered for a subsidy at the PBAC's November meeting, where approval was forecast to cost the budget $100 million during over the next six years if a subsidy was granted.
With huge demand for migraine treatments the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme has placed a cap on subsidies for existing treatments Botox and Emgality, after which the manufacturers meet the cost of providing the medications.
The first drug of its type that works by blocking a chemical that triggers a migraine attack, Aimovig can cut the frequency and severity of the condition in half.
Migraine Australia's Raphaella Crosby said she respected Novartis' decision to withdraw its Aimovig PBS application, accusing the PBAC of "bullying" drug companies into giving away their drug for free.
"We just want our lives back, and these drugs can do that," Ms Crosby said.
"To deny us a chance at a normal life, confined to welfare or constantly at risk of losing our jobs, unable to have a productive life, simply because there's too many of us, is cruel and inexplicable.
"It is not clear if the problem is the PBAC dismiss migraine as 'just a headache', or something else, but we are really unhappy about the way we are being treated.
"It is disrespectful to the millions of Australians whose lives are completely sacrificed to this genetic, incurable disorder, and destroys the first glimmer of hope we've ever had.
Novartis had been providing Aimovig free to Australian patients for the past year as it's first two PBAC applications were assessed and rejected.