Medication Updates


6 August 2020

New Drug Approved for RA
Upadacitinib is the third Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitor to be approved for rheumatoid arthritis after baricitinib and tofacitinib. Upadacitinib is indicated for patients with moderate–severe rheumatoid arthritis who have not adequately responded, or are intolerant, to at least one or more conventional disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs).

Read more below and please discuss the medication with your rheumatologist. 

Approved indication: rheumatoid arthritis Rinvoq (AbbVie)

Consumer medicine information: Rinvoq Upadacitinib

1 June 2020

Opioid Regulatory Changes

To minimise the harm caused by opioid prescription medicines to Australians each year, a number of regulatory changes are being implemented. The changes will ensure the safe and effective prescribing and use of opioids while maintaining access for patients who need them.

Learn more here.

Modified release paracetamol changes

From 1 June 2020, you will be required to speak to a pharmacist before purchasing modified release paracetamol. This is to ensure that consumers receive the appropriate advice on the use of these products.

Modified release paracetamol (sometimes labelled as sustained release, slow release or extend release) is formulated with a higher dose of paracetamol per tablet (665 mg) compared to immediate release paracetamol at 500 mg per tablet. In modified release formulations, paracetamol is released into the body more slowly and has a more convenient 8-hourly dosing regimen compared to the immediate release products (usually taken 4-6-hourly).

For more information visit the TGA site here. 

May 2020

Rinvoq® (upadacitinib) added to the PBS

Breakthrough new medicine listing on the PBS for rheumatoid arthritis from 1 May.

Australians with rheumatoid arthritis will benefit from the listing of Rinvoq® (upadacitinib) to the PBS. Patients might otherwise pay more than $16,000 per year for Rinvoq but with the PBS subsidy will only pay $41 or $6.60 with a concession card. Rinvoq® will be a new treatment option for people with severe rheumatoid arthritis providing them with more choice in how they manage this painful condition. Around 5,000 patients per year already access a comparable treatment, and may benefit from this new treatment option.

Read more here.

TGA to permit conditional substitution to ease serious shortages

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is implementing changes to allow community pharmacists to substitute specific medicines without prior approval from the prescribing doctor in certain situations where a medicine is unavailable at the time of dispensing.

These changes will relieve pressure on doctors and allow patients to receive their medicines from their pharmacist without delay.

The changes will allow a pharmacist to dispense different strengths of a product (such as two 20 mg tablets in place of a 40 mg tablet) or a different dose form of the same medicine (such as a capsule instead of a tablet). It will also allow a medicine that is prescribed as an extended/sustained release medicine to be substituted for an immediate release medicine, or vice versa. Substitution of a medicine with another product containing a different active ingredient is not considered.

Read more here.


Arthritis NSW – we’re here to help

We’re here to help whenever you need us. We have a variety of options available for support and information.