Free treatment for disease

By Country News

Australians with a rare disease that can result in life-threatening complications will have free access to a new medicine, saving them hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

The Federal Government from Thursday will fully subsidise the treatment for Fabry disease through its Life Saving Drugs Program.

The program provides specialised medicines to people experiencing rare and life-threatening diseases.

People with Fabry disease have an enzyme deficiency that makes it harder for their bodies to break down a specific fatty substance.

The genetic condition usually becomes evident in childhood, through episodes of severe pain and other symptoms such as rashes, headaches, fatigue, vertigo, fever, vomiting and diarrhoea.

Kidney failure, heart attack and stoke are among its complications.

The Life Saving Drugs Program helps about 100 people with Fabry disease receive enzyme replacement therapy. The newly listed medicine Galaford is an oral alternative, helping people to reduce symptoms of the disease in their own home.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said the medication would be too much of a financial burden without being fully subsidised.