While there is no known cure for Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH), new hope emerges in the way of affordable combination therapy.
Dr Edmund Lau is a Respiratory Specialist at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney. His area of speciality means he regularly sees patients who live with PAH.
“PAH is characterised by shortness of breath, dizziness and chest pressure. Living with the condition is not always easy, and ultimately we aim to treat everyone as an individual. The aim is to improve how people living with the condition feel each day and help keep their symptoms under control,” Dr Lau said.
Research is key – but so is accessibility to medicine. Following a review of PAH medicines which started in 2015, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Council (PBAC) has recommended that, for the first time, combination therapy for people living with more severe PAH should be subsidised.
The news has been warmly welcomed by Dr Lau who sees this as a significant step forward in the treatment of PAH.
“This is great news for people living with PAH because combination therapy is considered the standard of care for most patients. This means we will be able to combine different medications together to tailor treatment for patients, resulting in better control of symptoms,” Dr Lau said.
“In the past, our patients could only access combination therapy by either self-funding or through compassionate access schemes. Inevitably, this means that some people miss out.
“Currently there is no timeline for when combination therapy will be listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), however once available, it will allow physicians to deliver the best standard of care for patients, allowing them to live longer with the best possible quality of life.”
Kevin Burke, father to three beautiful daughters, was diagnosed with PAH in 2010 yet is determined to live his best life each day.
“I love to do everything I possibly can within the limitations of PAH. My girls are my world and to spend quality time with them is the most important thing for me,” Kevin said.
“You know what sort of day you are going to have as soon as you wake up – the way you feel in that moment determines how your day will be.
“I’m currently on a combination of oral medications afforded to me through compassionate grounds via my specialist as only one is currently subsidised through the PBS.
“This type of treatment gives me a better quality of life and I can breathe much easier meaning I can continue to do most everyday tasks – care for my daughters, work casually and maintain my role as the Vice President at the local football club.
“Before I was on the right combination of medications it was a struggle to even do up my shoe laces. Now I am able to live a relatively normal life within the limits of the disease.
“The listing of combination therapy on thePBS will make a significant difference to the lives of people like me living with PAH. To not have the stress of worrying about the cost of multiple medications leads to a better quality of life which I believe is the most important aspect for people living with an incurable disease.”
PBS will make a significant difference to the lives of people like me living with PAH. To not have the stress of worrying about the cost of multiple medications leads to a better quality of life which I believe is the most important aspect for people living with an incurable disease.”
Why PBS submissions are important
Lung Foundation Australia regularly advocates for affordable access to new and proven medications for people living with a lung disease and strongly encourages the patient community to have their voice heard in the process by making a submission. The consumer voice is very important in this decision-making process because it provides insight into the impact of your condition on you and your family day-to-day living. It also provides background on the affect your symptoms have on quality of life and the potentially positive impact having access to new medications could have.
To keep up-to-date with medications up for review by the PBAC and make submissions, visit lungfoundation.com.au and subscribe to our communications.
If you would like information and support on PAH click here or phone freecall 1800 654 301.