Cystic fibrosis sufferer Jess Ragusa's quality of life has improved so much since she began taking Trikafta, she compares the drug to something from the world of "magic, fairies and miracles".

Few Australians with the life-limiting condition would know what she means because the cost of the breakthrough treatment, which improves lung function and breathing, has been prohibitive.

That is why Ms Ragusa cried tears of joy upon learning Trikafta, which has been costing her family more than $21,000 per month, will be listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme from April 1.

The NSW woman has been taking the medicine for six months, and described it as "life-changing" as she welcomed federal Health Minister Greg Hunt's announcement.

She told the Sunday Canberra Times her lung function had improved by 24 per cent within a month of beginning to use Trikafta, which had allowed her to be "a functioning adult in society".

"The difference from how I was to how I am is chalk and cheese," Ms Ragusa said

"I don't know if you believe in magic, fairies and miracles, but that's what it's like."

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

Mr Hunt said Trikafta would be available on the PBS for Australians with cystic fibrosis if they were 12 or older and met certain criteria, bringing it within the reach of thousands of people in need.

"Without PBS subsidy, around 1900 Australians would pay more than $250,000 a year for access to Trikafta," he said.

"This treatment is out of reach for most Australians, and now that it will be available on the PBS, patients will only pay a maximum of $42.50 per script, or as little as $6.80 with a concession card."

Ms Ragusa, a concession card holder, said she believed each script would give her enough of the medication to last four weeks, effectively lowering her more than $21,000 monthly bill to roughly $6.80.

Professor John Wilson, a leading cystic fibrosis physician from the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne, said Mr Hunt's announcement was "most incredibly welcomed by the medical community in Australia".

He described Trikafta as a drug that provided "amazing improvement in lung health, quality of life and longevity" for people with cystic fibrosis.

The drug's manufacturer, Vertex, also praised its listing on the PBS, describing this as "an incredible milestone".

This story 'Magic, fairies and miracles': Life-changing medication to be listed on PBS
first appeared on
The Canberra Times.

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