From today patients will have simplified access to an Australian drug discovery, listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) for the treatment of cystic fibrosis.

Bronchitol (mannitol) is a dry powder delivered to the lungs through a portable inhaler, which clinical trials have shown can improve lung function in patients with cystic fibrosis- the most common, genetically acquired, life-shortening chronic illness affecting young Australians.

A new PBS listing for Bronchitol, which takes effect on November 1st, 2013; removes a requirement for patients to show a 10% increase in a measurement of lung function called spirometry, in order to continue having their treatment subsidised.

Following a recommendation at the last meeting of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC), the ‘10% Increase Rule’ will be replaced with a new set of criteria which will allow a patient and their clinical team greater flexibility in deciding on continuing treatment. The new prescribing rules will still measure lung function to determine that lung health has not declined, but this test will occur at 3 months, instead of at 4 weeks. This is much better suited to patients’ normal clinic visits, and will allow enough time for the CF Care Team to adequately assess response to treatment.

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