The temporary Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) listings introduced during the global tocilizumab shortage last year are set to be removed. These PBS listings allowed patients to transition off tocilizumab and onto another biological disease-modifying drug (bDMARD). This facilitated appropriate continuing treatment for patients who could not access their tocilizumab as prescribed. (More information on these initial arrangements can be found in the PBS news item dated 20 August 2021)
From 1 December 2022, these temporary PBS listings will be placed in a ‘Supply Only’ state for a period of 6 months before being completely removed. During this period, these items can no longer be prescribed, but patients can continue to access outstanding repeats on prescriptions that were issued under these item codes.
Medications affected by this issue are:
- Certolizumab pegol;
- Tofacitinib; and
Please refer to Table 1 below or the PBS website for affected PBS item codes.
Table 1. PBS item codes affected by these changes
Recommendations from the PBS:
- Prescribers may wish to consider the clinical appropriateness of changing patients back to tocilizumab. Patients can transition back onto the relevant ‘continuing treatment’ phase without having to re-meet the ‘initial treatment’ criteria of their former prescribed treatment. These codes are available here.
- If the current bDMARD therapy is to be continued, prescribers should review their patients to ensure they meet the PBS criteria for the relevant ‘continuing treatment’ listing.
- Pharmacists should be aware that authority prescriptions for these temporary listings will no longer be valid and cannot be dispensed after 31 May 2023.
- Patients with prescriptions for one of these temporary PBS listings should be encouraged to discuss their options with their prescriber as soon as possible and before 31 May 2023, when their prescription will no longer be valid.
For further information, please consult the PBS website.
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