The psoriasis drug previously cost up to $30,000 a year for patients.
The psoriasis drug previously cost up to $30,000 a year for patients.

Cost of key psoriasis drug to be slashed

SUFFERERS of an irritating and often painful condition can expect some relief shortly, as the cost of a key drug is about to be eased.

Psoriasis affects 1.6 million Australians and causes red, scaly lesions that can be painful, disfiguring and disabling.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt will today announce Tremfya (Guselkumab), used to treat a severe class of chronic plaque psoriasis, will be listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

It would normally cost $30,000 per year, per patient, but under the listing this would be slashed to $40.60 per script. For concession card holders it will drop further to $6.50.

Health Minister Greg Hunt. File picture
Health Minister Greg Hunt. File picture

Mr Hunt said the drug would be available to those with the most severe cases of chronic plaque psoriasis, or about 3600 people a year.

"Psoriasis, which is a lifelong condition without a cure, can impact the emotional and social wellbeing of affected people," he said.

"It can be associated with psychosocial issues including social isolation, poor self-image, depression and anxiety."

Princess Alexandra Hospital dermatologist Jason K. Wu said severe chronic plaque psoriasis could be a particularly stigmatising condition.

"Probably the most significant issue is the visual impact of the disease," he said.

"For some reason the patches of psoriasis really trigger an emotional response both in the general public and patients themselves of this feeling of infection in their skin or uncleanliness, which causes stigma for patients."

Dr Wu said Tremfya was the latest advancement in drugs used to treat the condition and was showing high success rates.



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