A medicinal cannabis product designed to help Australians living with a rare form of epilepsy has become the first drug of its kind to be subsidised by the government.
From Saturday, people living with Dravet syndrome will have access to Epidyolex, a new treatment used in combination with at least two other anti-epileptic medicines on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
Dravet syndrome is a rare genetic condition that gives rise to seizures that don’t respond well to standard medications.
The disorder begins in the first year of life in otherwise healthy infants.
About eight out of 10 people with the syndrome have a gene mutation that causes problems in the way ion channels in the brain work.
About 116 patients each year, who might otherwise have paid more than $24,000 a year for the treatment, will pay only $41.30 per script or $6.60 if they have a concession card.
The government has also expanded the PBS listing of Asacol, a treatment for inflammatory bowel disease, for a new stronger tablet.