One year ago today, before Migraine Australia existed, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee – the independent body that recommends drugs to be listed on the PBS – recommended that Emgality be listed on the PBS.

Emgality is one of the new life-changing CGRP antagonists, the first medications designed for migraine attack prevention, and the first real shot many people with migraine have at managing their condition.

A year after getting the green light, Emgality is no closer to being listed on the PBS.

That’s one whole year of Australians being debilitated when they don’t need to be. One whole year of people not being able to go back to work, or look after their kids. One whole year of high medical costs, frequent visits to emergency, and, for many, a lot of pain killers.

For people who live in regional areas, the burden is higher. Not having these medications means they have to travel to the city regularly to get inferior treatment, or suffer without any good treatment options for their significant migraine.

It’s also one whole year that migraine has continued to drain some $36 billion from the economy without any effort to try and stop that extraordinary waste.

The new drugs are not for everyone. Emgality won’t work for every patient who needs a preventative. But if we can free the roughly 100,000 people who would benefit significantly from CGRP treatment, it is simply cruel to deny them this help.

The reasons why Emgality (or Ajovy) have not been listed are at once complex, and very simple. If you wander into the complexities of risk sharing agreements and PBAC advice it is very complex and difficult to follow, which people like the Health Minister count on so they can blame the drug companies.

But at the same time it’s actually very simple: there are too many people living with migraine, and the Government is not willing to spend the money necessary to help the hundreds of thousands of Australians living with chronic or severe migraine.

The ‘just a headache’ stigma bites hard in many aspects of our lives, but no more so than in how our Government treats us. And by Government I don’t mean just the politicians: the public service have also been dismissing migraine as not important forever.

There are many things we need to do to correct that, and to start managing migraine effectively. But how about we start with the glaring one on top of the pile, and list the new medications on the PBS.

Migraine Australia is still a very new organisation, with a broad agenda to support and improve the wellbeing of all people living with migraine and their families. But we will continue to keep getting all the new medications listed on the PBS as our highest priority.

~RK Crosby, Chair, Migraine Australia Ltd

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2 Replies to “A year too long”

  • Hello to the team. I clicked on Migraine Australia for the first time last night when trying to find out how much Emgality would cost me per month. Instead, I read the first opening sentences on your home page and found myself tearing up at how well they described exactly how I feel. Whoever wrote that should be given a medal! My Mum suffered terribly with migraines and I had my first one when I was about 14. Now 58yo and still trying to find a way to manage them. My neurologist told me about Emgality. I have been on 3 monthly Botox injections for about 2 years and was supposed to have it in August but with the Covid restrictions, and living in a semi-rural area, it wasn’t able to be done so she suggested Emgality and sent a brochure. It sounds terrific; being able to do it myself at home would be brilliant. She said she would have to register me and teleconsult re risks, etc and that she would have to write the scripts – my GP wouldn’t be able to do that. When I was reading the info on your website, I thought I saw somewhere that a GP could issue a script for Emgality, is that correct? Looking forward to your reply. Thanks for being there! – Melanie

    • Hi Melanie – sorry for the delay, your post got buried in the spam folder! Your GP can write you a script for either Aimovig, Emgality or Ajovy as none of them are on the PBS. Some GPs aren’t comfortable, but if your neuro has recommended the drug for you then it should be no problem.

      If these medications are listed on the PBS then it will need to be prescribed by your neuro – although we are pushing for GPs to be allowed to do the ongoing repeat prescriptions. Hope it works for you! Join us in the chat group https://www.facebook.com/groups/migraineauschat/

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