Quitters save as drugs go on PBS

HELP is at hand for people who made a New Year's resolution to stop smoking.

New low-strength nicotine patches have been listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme from January 1, meaning they will available for doctors to prescribe and patients to use at a cost much lower than non-listed patches.

It will cut the price of patches down to $5.80 a month for patients with concession cards, and $35.40 a month for general patients.

Higher-strength nicotine patches were listed under the scheme in February 2011.

Health Minister Tanya Plibersek said it was part of the Gillard government's commitment to helping Australians kick the smoking habit, and follows initiatives such as anti-smoking advertising, plain-packaging legislation, tighter restrictions on smoking in public and other measures.

"The new patches will help smokers by giving them further options for quitting, and will allow clinicians to tailor the way they reduce a patient's nicotine intake," Ms Plibersek said.

The pharmaceutical benefits scheme, support by Government funding of more than $9 billion, will subsidise about 200 million prescriptions during the financial year.

Also to be listed under the scheme from January 1 is a higher strength version of etravirine for human immunodeficiency virus HIV sufferers. About 30,000 Australians are living with HIV.

Blood clots (venous thromboembolisms) can be fatal following knee and hip surgery and a drug aimed at preventing them is apixaban - another new listing under the scheme.

Another new listing is epoprostenol in the form of the Flolan Kit, to treat an abnormal increase in blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs (pulmonary arterial hypertension).



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