'It Could Have Saved Our Daughter': Life-Changing Multiple Sclerosis Drug Listed On PBS
The parents of a promising athlete who lost her brave battle with Multiple Sclerosis are "absolutely thrilled" with the listing of a new medicine on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
Carol and Roy Langsford believe the addition of Mavenclad for sufferers of Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis (RRMS) could have helped their daughter, who died in 2002.
"I'm absolutely sure that we may even have her today if it had been available," mother Carol told reporters on Sunday.
Trish Langsford was 23-years-old when she was diagnosed with the chronic neurological disease.
A budding cricketer and tennis player, she captained the Australian women's cricket youth team before she was left "completely paralysed".
"She was having morphine. She understood everything we said but she couldn't communicate. It was just so sad," Carol said.
Trish had one remission -- or flare-up of her symptoms -- during her battle and spent the last four years of her life in a nursing home. She died seven years after her diagnosis, aged 30.
Her parents went on to set up the Trish MS Research Foundation in her honour.
"We're absolutely thrilled to see this drug being available because I know it will make an enormous difference to many people's lives."
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Health Minister Greg Hunt on Sunday announced Mavenclad will be listed on the PBS from January 1 next year.
Also known as cladribine, it's taken by MS patients in tablet form.
"While there is currently no cure for MS, by listing this key medicine on the PBS, patients are set to face fewer relapses, less disease activity in the brain and less progression of disability," a joint statement said.
Morrison said the listing will benefit just over 6,000 people in Australia.
"It's going to ensure that what was previously costing over $50,000 a year will now be a script of around $40," he said.
"That is a massive turnaround. It makes a huge difference."
Mavenclad was originally approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration for the treatment of MS in Australia in 2010 but was later withdrawn after failing to be approved in the USA and Europe.
Long-term studies into its safety and efficacy have since been conducted, leading to its approval by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in 2017.
It was submitted to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) for consideration for the PBS in November that year.
Associate Professor Sue Hodgkinson was involved in the 2010 program and said the new listing will make it a "very useful" drug for neurologists to consider.
"We are very fortunate in this country that we have access to every one of the available medications really in the best possible way in the world," she said.
"It's a very easy drug to take, which is a major advantage, and many of the side effects are relatively mild, if they exist," she said.
Stewart Allen has had MS for 11 years and was one of the first patients to be prescribed the drug out-of-pocket in 2010. He said it has made a "massive difference" between working and giving up his job.
"I struggled on some of the other drugs," he said.
"MS is one of the diseases that is very individual. It's different in every patient and the drugs work differently," he said.
"It's important that we have the choice."
Carole Langford agrees.
"I'm absolutely thrilled that the drug has been made available because anything that gives people with MS the choice just makes the most difference in their lives," she said.
"If only it had been available for our daughter Trish."
The plight of MS patients is also close to the prime minister's heart as his brother-in-law Garry Warren has the disease.
"It's special ... for my government, that is what it's about. That is why I want a strong economy, a strong budget, " he said.
"It's a means to an end, which is helping people all across the country."
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