Biologics dominate list of costliest drugs
On 01 December NPS Medicine Wise published its annual list of the top 10 PBS drugs by cost to the Australian government. Biologics dominated the list, taking 7 of the top 10 places, including the top 5 positions. The top product aflibercept costs the government $392 million for 315,200 prescriptions, followed by nivolumab ($345 million/51,882 prescriptions), pembrolizumab ($343 million/38,860 prescriptions), adalimumab ($321 million/257,328 prescriptions), denosumab ($244 million/884,413 prescriptions), ranibizumab ($218 million/190,126 prescriptions) and ustekinumab ($211 million/29,603 prescriptions).
All 7 of these biologics featured in the 2018-19 top 10 list, however there are marked increases in the cost of several of the products. In particular, the total prescriptions of nivolumab decreased by approximately 2000 compared to last year, but the cost of the product increased by $77 million. There are currently no biosimilars available in Australia for any of these products.