Following the positive recommendation by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) back in August, the Government has announced that Mavenclad will officially be on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme from 1st January onwards.
Mavenclad, whose generic name is cladribine, is an oral treatment for relapsing-remitting MS. MS Research Australia welcomes its addition onto the PBS as it is now another affordable treatment option for people with relapsing remitting MS in Australia. Australia now has 12 approved and subsidised disease-modifying therapies for relapsing remitting MS, making it one of the very few countries in the world to have such ready access to treatment.
Mavenclad has a unique dosing regimen of one or two tablets for five consecutive days in the first week, which is repeated four weeks later. This dosing is then repeated after one year. This makes it a convenient option for people with MS for whom other medications and dosing schedules are not suitable. In Australia, Mavenclad is approved as a four-year treatment, with two years of active treatment followed by two years of observation. The observation period allows the medical team to track how long the effects of the therapy last and determine whether any further treatment is necessary.
Mavenclad selectively targets the immune cells that play a role in MS. The treatment has been shown to have a positive effect on relapse rates, rates of brain shrinkage and reduced the number of new lesions in clinical trials in people with relapsing remitting MS.
As people with MS respond differently to treatments and the side-effects of each drug differing in each individual, a wider range of treatment choices is a vital development. The addition of a further affordable treatment option for relapsing remitting MS will enable people with MS and their doctors to find effective therapies suited to their individual circumstances, allowing them to reduce the impact of MS on their lives. It is important that individuals with MS discuss any new treatment options with their neurologist.
There are a number of bodies involved in the approval and subsidy of medicines in Australia. Three of these agencies and their roles are given below: