More than 15,000 Australians with diabetes will be left in the lurch following the Albanese Government’s removal of Fiasp from the PBS. Astoundingly, the Minister for Health, Mark Butler has taken absolutely no responsibility for this harmful decision.
The Government’s last-minute temporary intervention to extend availability is only a Band-Aid response that fails to properly address ongoing access to this life changing insulin.
Diabetes patients have been provided little notice that they will need to urgently renew their script before 1 April so that they will be covered for the 6 month temporary extension period, and there are serious concerns that they may not be able to access a doctor in that time.
The Minister has placed these patients in a period of complete uncertainty about their medication, because we know that the fast-acting nature of Fiasp is life changing for users compared to other available forms of insulin.
Significantly, Minister Butler has attempted to mislead the diabetes community by falsely indicating that the manufacturer of Fiasp, Novo Nordisk, is not willing to come to the table on a solution and that the Minister has no legal power to intervene.
Statements from Novo Nordisk have revealed that the significant price reduction set to be applied to Fiasp from 1 April, which will reduce the price of this innovative drug to below that of their older insulin products, makes it commercially unviable for it to remain on the PBS.
We know that the Minister has the discretion to intervene, but it appears he has chosen not to use this power.
Ministerial discretion provides an essential pathway to ensure critical medicines like Fiasp can remain commercially viable on the PBS and therefore affordable to the Australians who rely on them.
The Shadow Minister for Health, Senator the Hon Anne Ruston said, “There has been an appalling lack of communication from the Albanese Government on this issue, and now we are seeing the Minister try to shirk any responsibility for the impact it will have on patients.”
“The Minister must be transparent with the Australian diabetes community and outline what solutions he has pursued with the manufacturer, and why he has not used his ministerial discretion to ensure ongoing access to Fiasp on the PBS.”
“It is unconscionable that Minister Butler continues to mislead 15,000 families by not taking any responsibility for the way this issue has been handled or how it could be remedied,” Senator Ruston said.