The Australian government has approved new and extended listings for "important" medicines on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), and has not made any cuts to the Scheme in this week's mini-budget.

One particularly significant move is the extension of the listing for Bayer/Regeneron's Eylea (aflibercept), to existing patients with age-related macular degeneration (AMD); previously, it had been only available on the PBS for new patients. 

Welcoming the change, which follows the advice of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC), Health Minister Tankya Plibersek said that Eylea offers "a simple but real benefit for patients. Instead of receiving eye injections every month, all patients will now have the option of using a medicine that only requires an injection every two months."

Eylea will be available to patients on the PBS for A$5.80 per dose.

The Minister also welcomed the extension of the listing for Novartis' Myfortic (mycophenolate sodium), used in the treatment of kidney inflammation caused by lupus, a rare illness with a high clinical need that is known to particularly affect the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population.

The other new and extended listings are for:
- Merck & Co's Emend (aprepitant), for the treatment of nausea and vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy;
- AFT Pharmaceuticals' Atenolol-AFT (atenolol) for high blood pressure;
- Merck & Co's Vytorin (ezetimibe with simvastatin) for the treatment of high cholesterol;
- ICSL Pharma's Naloxone Min-I-Jet (naloxone hydrochloride) for the emergency treatment of opioid overdose;
- VitaA-POS (paraffin compound eye ointment) for the treatment of severe dry eye syndrome;
- Bayer/Johnson & Johnson's Xarelto (rivaroxaban) for deep vein thrombosis;
- AFT Pharmaceuticals' Hylo-Fresh and Hylo-Forte (sodium hyaluronate) for severe dry eye syndrome; and

- Merck & Co's Temodal (temozolomide) for the treatment of certain types of malignant brain cancer.

Most of these new and extended listings will take effect from December 1.

The government has also announced price increases, again from December 1, for nine medicines currently listed on the PBS. This is to ensure that essential medicines continue to be available, it says.

The nine drugs are: - Uro-carb (bethanechol) for urinary retention; - Cal-Sup (calcium) for the prevention of osteoporosis; - Dantrium (dantrolene) for the treatment of muscle spasms; - Deptran (doxepin) for depression; - Natrilix SR (indapamide) for high blood pressure; - Zeffix, 3TC (lamivudine), for the treatment of hepatitis B infection and HIV infection in children; - Lincocin (lincomycin) for serious bacterial infections; - Synarel (nafarelin) for the treatment of endometriosis and as part of in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) procedure; and Macrodantin (nitrofurantoin) for the treatment of urinary tract infections.

The prices of Cetrolide (cetrorelix) and Orgalutran (ganirelix), both used for the treatment of infertility in women as part of an assisted reproductive technique such as IVF, will be decreased.

Meantime, no cuts to the PBS were included in Australia's mini-budget this week, a fact which has been welcomed by the Pharmacy Guild of Australia. Given the requirement for major savings, this "reflects the fact that the existing PBS reform regime is returning higher than expected savings," said the Guild.