HEALTH

Breakthrough Treatment For Schizophrenia Gets PBS Listing

Australians will get subsidised access from Sunday.

01/10/2017 12:26 PM AEDT | Updated 01/10/2017 1:34 PM AEDT
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Patients can now get REXULTI at a discounted rate.

Australians with Schizophrenia will have a better chance at accessing breakthrough treatment, with the anti-psychotic drug REXULTI listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme from Sunday.

REXULTI, which is listed on the PBS from today, gives patients access to the drug at a discounted rate of $38, or $6.30 with a concession card, a huge reduction from the cost price of $1700.

The addition of REXULTI to the PBS scheme makes Australia the first country outside of North America to have access to the drug, which works by re-balancing dopamine and serotonin in the brain.

The listing is likely to be a significant boost for many sufferers of the debilitating mental illness, which is a major cause of suicide and costs the Australian community around $2.6 billion per year.

Schizophrenia International Research Society president, Professor Pat McGorry, said new, more effective, and safer treatments like REXULTI were "a welcome addition to this challenging illness".

"Schizophrenia typically appears in early adulthood at a time when a person's whole life is before them," McGorry told Fairfax Media.

There are approximately 285,000 Australians living with the incapacitating and progressive mental illness, which is also a major cause of suicide.

Shockingly, up to 50 percent of those living with the condition attempt to take their own life.

Malcolm Hopwood, the clinical director of the Professorial Psychiatry Unit at the Albert Road Clinic, said access to new drugs was crucial due to differences in patient response to treatment.

"Often psychiatrists must try patients on a wide range of medications before finding the most efficacious treatment which least impacts the patient's quality of life with side effects," he said.

REXULTI is one of 1400 drugs added to the PBS from today.

If you need help in a crisis, call Lifeline on 131114 or the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300659467. Further information and general support are available from beyond blue on 1300224636.

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