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A sight-saving win for rural and regional Australians

People living in rural and remote areas needing sight-saving treatment for wet age-related macular degeneration, diabetic macular oedema and similar conditions will benefit from an important procedural change announced by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC).

Yesterday’s announcement by PBAC will reduce red tape and allow faster access to sight saving treatment for macular diseases.

Previously, the time-consuming process to obtain PBS approval for the use of these drugs had to be managed by the treating specialist ophthalmologist, who may have only had a day a month in a particular location. This approval process had the potential to limit the time available to treat patients. The new process now allows another clinician, such as a junior registrar working with the specialist, to manage the administrative tasks, thereby freeing up the ophthalmologist's time.

Julie Heraghty, CEO of Macular Disease Foundation Australia, the national body representing people with macular diseases said, "These relatively simple changes have the potential to have sight-saving outcomes by improving early access to treatment. This is particularly important given the higher rate of untreated eye disease in people living in rural and remote communities, as evidenced in the recent National Eye Health Survey. Early treatment saves sight, so the PBAC is to be congratulated for their flexibility."

17 December 2016