In a move warmly welcomed by parents and paediatric rheumatologists alike, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) is simplifying approvals for prescribing biologics and biosimilars. These effective medications were introduced into Australia in the early 2000s and have been quietly revolutionising the treatment and outcomes of juvenile arthritis ever since. However, there are limitations on their use and paediatric rheumatologists are currently required to apply to the PBS for permission to prescribe them on a case-by-case basis for each prescription by completing and submitting detailed written forms.
This tiresome and time-consuming requirement is about to change. Paediatric rheumatologists will no longer have to waste valuable time filling out detailed forms to obtain permission to write a prescription for these important medications. Instead, they will be able to obtain telephone approval for the first script and use a code for subsequent scripts. For busy parents, who must currently arrange an additional specialist visit to collect each script for their child’s biologic or biosimilar medication, this will mean less time and effort, and more certainty around accessing these scripts in a timely and stress free manner.
The reason given is ‘the (national) shortage of paediatric rheumatologists’ which was highlighted in the recent report of the Parliamentary Inquiry into Childhood Rheumatic Diseases.