Doctors and patients have welcomed the introduction of a new Parkinson’s disease drug to the Australian market.
The Federal Government has added Azilect, also called rasagiline, to the Pharmaceuticals Benefits Scheme (PBS).
The drug, taken in tablet form, reduces the debilitating symptoms of the disease, but was previously only available over the internet at a huge cost.
“It’s fantastic,” said Associate Professor Simon Lewis, from the Brain & Mind Research Institute in Sydney.
“It means for the first time Australian patients will have access, through the PBS, to a medication that the rest of the world has had since 2005”.
Concession card holders will be able to buy a month’s dose for as little as $5.80.
A similar dose over the internet costs up to $400.
“You had all of these horror stories where patients thought they were buying the real tablets and really not getting much benefit,” Associate Professor Lewis said.
Parkinson’s disease is an incurable neurological condition affecting more than 64,000 Australians.
There are over 30 new diagnoses every day.
Symptoms include trembling and stiffness of the body, which can slow down and prevent full range of movement.
The disease is progressive, meaning symptoms will become more severe over time.
Ronnie Hall has been living with Parkinson’s for the past ten years.
“It’s hard to get down and do certain jobs you used to be able to take for granted, you know. Can’t do any more gardening and any handyman work at home and so forth.”
He welcomed the financial relief that comes with the PBS listing.
“I’ve always loved to be positive about things,” he said.