Uptravi Added to Lower Cost Treatment List for PAH Patients in Australia

Teresa Carvalho, MS avatar

by Teresa Carvalho, MS |

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Australia’s government has taken a step to ensure that Uptravi (selexipag), an oral therapy for pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), is available to people affected by the disease.

Janssen’s treatment is now included in the country’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) listing, meaning it is available to residents in this program at a subsidized cost.

The co-pay for most patients getting a prescription medicine through the PBS is currently set at a maximum of AU$41.30 (about $32). Retirees, veterans and others holding what are called concession cards face a maximum out-of-pocket charge of AU$6.60.

An estimated 420 PAH patients in Australia start treatment for their disease each year, and some — partly depending on their doctor’s recommendation — will now be eligible to use Uptravi.

“By having Uptravi available on the PBS clinicians now have a more complete arsenal of treatments available to tackle this disease. Our overall treatment goal for people living with PAH is to keep overall disease risk as low as possible. This translates into better long-term outcomes for patients,” Helen Whitford, MD, a respiratory physician at Alfred Hospital, said in a press release.

Uptravi is to be used in combination with an endothelin receptor antagonist and/or a phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitor.

PAH is characterized by the narrowing of the pulmonary arteries, the smaller blood vessels that transport blood to the lungs. As  blood pressure increases, patients typically experience symptoms that include shortness of breath, fatigue, and dizziness. But these symptoms can develop fairly slowly and mimic other heart and lung disorders, including bronchitis and asthma, making PAH difficult to diagnose.

Currently, up to 3,800 Australians are believed to have PAH, and 2,300 are diagnosed with this disease. A longer time to a diagnosis delays treatment, risking PAH progression.

“We are proud as a company to have achieved a listing for Uptravi on the PBS for this rare disease that can go undiagnosed for too long and is in an area of significant unmet need,” said Sophie Glover-Koudounas, executive director, Medical and Scientific Affairs at Janssen Australia and New Zealand.

“We commend the Federal Government’s commitment to bringing about the best possible health and wellbeing outcomes for Australians living with a rare disease through its National Strategic Action Plan for Rare Disease, with this listing being a tangible demonstration of this,” Glover-Koudounas added.

According to Mark Brooke, CEO of Lung Foundation Australia, the inclusion of Uptravi on the PBS list will contribute to a fairer access to treatment for PAH patients.