Migraine patients set to save hundreds after costly drug revision

Migraine patients set to save hundreds after costly drug revision

The addition of migraine-preventing medication to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) has been hailed as a step in the right direction by advocacy groups.

Emgality is used to prevent migraines in adults and is injected once a month by the patient.

It can cost up to $1000 a month, but from June 1 eligible individuals will pay just $41.30 a script or $6.60 if they are a concession holder.

Raphaella Crosby, the founding member of patient advocacy group Migraine Australia said the addition of the treatment to the PBS is a step in the right direction but that there’s still more work to do.

“It does kind of pave the way because now that we’ve got one of these new medications on the PBS, there’s not much argument for listing the other ones,” Ms Crosby said.

However, Ms Crosby said the number of people eligible for treatment would be limited by strict criteria.

To be eligible, a person must meet the definition of suffering from chronic migraines, be under the care of a neurologist, have tried three older medications that failed, and not have received botox (a common treatment for migraines) under the PBS.

“The line between episodic and chronic migraine is nonsense, it’s an arbitrary line that somebody drew at some point. It has no clinical meaning,” Ms Crosby said.

According to research by Deloitte Access Economics in 2018, 4.9 million Australians live with migraines.

Migraines disproportionately affect women as well, with 45 percent of women aged between 25 and 45 living with very active migraines that affect their ability to work, Ms Crosby said.

“When the government talks about getting women back to work, to deny these drugs to women who aren’t completely debilitated by them is a bit counterproductive,” she said.

“Because essentially what the restrictions are saying is ‘you need to be completely debilitated by your migraine before we’ll give you something that works’.”

Emgality, made by pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, belongs to a group of medications that block a particular protein associated with migraines, called calcitonin-gene-related peptide (CGRP).

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