Wonder drug subsidy close to home for PM
A WONDER pill that dramatically improves the lives of patients with multiple sclerosis - a disease ravaging the body of Prime Minister Scott Morrison's brother-in-law - will be subsidised and trumpeted as a beneficiary of strong economic management.
Garry Warren will be with Mr Morrison today to announce Mavenclad will be listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme from January 1, saving 6200 patients with relapsing MS an eye-watering $54,000 a year.
Patients will pay just $40.30 a script or $6.50 for concessional patients.
Mr Morrison was racked with emotion, when, as treasurer, he revealed in last year's post-Budget address the heartbreaking story of his brother-in-law, who was diagnosed with progressive MS in 1999 when he was a firefighter.
Mr Warren, Jenny Morrison's brother, was at the address with his wife Michelle when Mr Morrison barely held back tears.
Mr Morrison said at the time he remembered his brother-in-law saying:
"It's not flash being disabled but if there is anything good about it, it's that you're disabled in Australia."
"His oldest son at that time was just eight years old. The youngest son had not been born,'' Mr Morrison revealed on that day.
Mr Warren will not benefit from the listing because he has progressive MS but will be at today's announcement to support other sufferers.
The new drug is one of almost 2000 new or amended PBS items, costing $10.5 billion that has been listed by the Coalition since its won office in 2013.
The Government's record on listing new lifesaving and life-preserving drugs - most focused on cancer - will be trumpeted by Mr Morrison at the next election campaign.
While Labor claims it will always be better on health than the Coalition, Mr Mr Morrison will directly link balancing the books to providing key services like health.
There are about 130 cancer treating medicines subsidised on the PBS, costing about $2 billion - about one in every $6 of PBS expenditure.
Mr Morrison told The Sunday Mail economic management was important.
"We're delivering on our plan for a stronger economy which means we can subsidise important medicines like this one for Australians,'' he said.
Health Minister Greg Hunt, who has been a driver of listing key medicines, said the new drug will help people manage their condition.
"MS is a debilitating condition that can hit people at the prime of their lives,'' he said.