Senate debates

Monday, 11 September 2023

Statements by Senators

Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme

1:55 pm

Photo of Wendy AskewWendy Askew (Tasmania, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Finding a medication that works well for you and stabilises your condition is vital for someone living with a chronic illness. Having access to that medication can literally be life changing. That's the experience of more than 15,000 Australians who live with type 1 diabetes and use the fast-acting insulin Fiasp, including my niece Sarah and her six-year-old son Ollie. I have shared Sarah and Ollie's story before in this place. They are just two of many Australians who have been living the last six months in fear and uncertainty due to the failures of the Albanese Labor government to act decisively on this issue.

Despite a six-month temporary extension in April, affordable access to the fast-acting insulin Fiasp is set to be ripped away from them and others on 1 October as a result of the government's decision to schedule this drug for removal from the PBS. What happens after that deadline is uncertain, but the decision will have far-reaching consequences that go far beyond financial.

Fiasp is the only type of insulin Ollie has ever known. Because it is fast acting, it means he does not have to wait 20 minutes before eating. Going without it goes against the natural impulsiveness of childhood. Without Fiasp, Ollie loses his freedom to be a child, and it adds additional stress for his mother while she's trying to manage her own illness. The reality is that there is no comparable product for either of them.

As the end date for the extension looms over the diabetes community, the Minister for Health and Aged Care, Mark Butler, has been completely silent on whether users will still have affordable access to Fiasp from 1 October this year. I call on the minister for health to provide immediate certainty to the type 1 diabetes community about the ongoing availability of this critical drug on the PBS.