PBS to remove common testosterone hormone replacement therapy

The Department of Health, through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), has announced that from February 1st they will no longer subsidise Primoteston Depot, the most common form of medical transition available for transgender men and non-binary people assigned female at birth.

“Primoteston Depot (testosterone enantate 250 mg injection) will be deleted from the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) on 1 February 2018. Deletion from the PBS was requested by the manufacturer who has advised that Primoteston Depot will continue to be available to patients via a private prescription,” a spokesperson for the Federal Department of Health told OUTinPerth.

“Patients can access alternative testosterone products on the PBS. These drugs are listed for the same indications as Primoteston Depot.”

Members of WA’s trans and gender diverse community have raised concerns that this will make the medication unaffordable for much of the transgender community, leaving many fearing how they will cope with the expense of this medical necessity.

“It is extremely disappointing to hear that the government plans to remove Primoteston from the PBS. It is well known that trans folk are subject to much higher rates of unemployment,” a local trans person, who wished to remain anonymous, said.

“We are also far more likely to experience homelessness, discrimination, harassment, violence, and much higher rates of mental health issues. Many of us are chronically ill, unable to work, and/or disabled. So many of us are low income earners and really rely on medicines we may need being subsidised.

“I have seen first-hand the financial impact simply existing as a trans person can have on a person. I have lived it and have watched/continue to watch my friends go through this. I have gone weeks without this medication because I was so broke that I couldn’t afford it at its full cost price, and I know many people do the same thing.

“When the government does things like this, they endorse the clear message that they do not support trans folk. How can they possibly justify denying trans folk, some of the most vulnerable people in society, access to a medication they need? It makes no sense.”

Local advocate Kai Schweizer noted that there are other options available on the PBS, but they are not as effective as Primoteston.

“Primoteston is the preferred method of hormone replacement therapy. Once the PBS remove it, trans people will be stuck with choosing between paying exorbitant prices for Primoteston or relying on an inferior method with greater side effects,” Schweizer said.

“In Western Australia we have a serious issue with trans people accessing black market and illegal hormones and this change will likely serve to exacerbate the problem.”

OIP Staff

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