Life-changing medicine to
“transform lives, not just skin”
Thousands of Australians with the most severe and debilitating form of eczema are rejoicing today in response to news that a medicine described as ‘life-changing’ will finally be subsidised through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
Welcoming the Federal Health Minister’s announcement that Dupixent will be PBS listed for Australians aged from 12 years with severe eczema from 1 March, Eczema Support Australia Managing Director Melanie Funk said this was “the best news ever.”
“There will be tears of relief that this breakthrough medicine is now available for Australians with severe eczema, regardless of their ability to pay,” Ms Funk said.
“We offer our heartfelt thanks to Minister Hunt and the Federal Government for listening to many stories of the agony of life with eczema, and for subsidising a therapy described as ‘life-changing’ by those who have received early and compassionate access.
“Australians with severe eczema and their families suffer a significant financial burden due to the ongoing cost of treating eczema, as well as lost employment due to the condition, so financial distress is an area of need which this subsidy will help address,” she said.
“We’re committed to improving the practical support available for the eczema community and having more treatment options that are subsidised is a critical part of that,” she added.
Until now, Australians with severe eczema have been treated with corticosteroid creams or broad-based immunosuppressant drugs which cannot be used long-term. For many Australians, these therapies fail to control eczema, resulting in a life-long battle to cope with flare ups and avoid triggers.
Dupixent is the first biologic therapy for severe eczema and is injected once a fortnight for the rest of a person’s life. The subsidy reduces the annual cost of the medicine from $22,800 to just $41.30 or $6.60 for concession card holders per prescription. Australians with severe eczema should consult their dermatologist or immunologist to see if they are eligible for this treatment.
While Dupixent will only be subsidised for Australians with severe eczema aged 12 years or more, clinical trials are underway to investigate the use of the medicine in children with severe eczema.
Gold Coast mum of twin 11-year-olds with severe eczema, Melanie Funk set up Eczema Support Australia to provide support and connection for people impacted by eczema. The organisation is growing rapidly with many people finding comfort in joining an online community.
Last year, Eczema Support Australia launched a national campaign called SOS – Save Us From Eczema to emphasize the severity of eczema and the need for community understanding and practical support for Australians with the condition.
Just before COVID-19 hit, Eczema Support Australia led a twenty-strong delegation of individuals affected by eczema to the Federal Parliament to share their stories of living with the condition which garnered significant support from Federal MPs and Senators.
Eczema Support Australia also presented to the House of Representatives Standing Committee Allergies an Anaphylaxis Inquiry and a provided a further submission to the Inquiry into the Approval Process for New Drugs and Novel Medical Technologies in Australia.
Ms Funk said that severe eczema has been misunderstood and trivialised as a skin irritation for decades and “behind this listing, there are individuals who have had the courage to speak out for the first time about the pain and suffering caused by severe eczema”.
“The Minister’s announcement marks official recognition that our suffering is real, which will be a huge boost to our community who have suffered in silence for so long.
“We will continue to campaign for widespread public understanding and practical support for all families and individuals affected by eczema, so that Australians with eczema can live a normal life,” Ms Funk concluded.