Break for allergic asthma sufferers as ‘lifesaving’ drug subsidised

13 Jun Break for allergic asthma sufferers as ‘lifesaving’ drug subsidised

PATIENTS suffering from allergic asthma attacks will save thousands of dollars a year with the Turnbull Government increasing subsidies for a “lifesaving” drug.

The Coalition will spend $5.4 million to make Omalizumab — an injectable medication used to treat severe asthma not controlled by corticosteroid inhalers — available to hundreds of patients across Australia.

The drug is used to treat people who suffer from acute allergic asthma, triggered by inhaled allergens such as dust mites, pet hair and pollen.

Until now, patients have been forced to pay more than $500 a month to access the drug.

Professor Jo Douglass, head of Clinical Immunology and Allergy at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, said Omalizumab was the “first and only approved drug” that could help this unique group of patients.

She said about 70 per cent of asthma patients suffered from allergic asthma and while the majority were well controlled, traditional medications could be “severely ineffective” for others.

“For some, these drugs can be life-changing,” Prof Douglass said.

“It’s very expensive, but this will increase the number of people that can access the drug.”

Veronica Igwemma, 32, has suffered from severe asthma since birth and has received the injections for five years.

She welcomed the government’s announcement, saying it would give sufferers a “chance at life”.

Health Minister Sussan Ley said the government was ensuring asthmatics had affordable access to the drug which was previously out of reach for many patients.


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