The red, scaly patches of skin spread across Fran Hately’s body meant even just getting up from a couch was painful enough to bring her to tears.
For almost two decades she bore the agony caused by her psoriasis, an inflammatory, autoimmune condition affecting the skin and nails.
She also didn’t leave her home without her legs and arms covered to hide the lesions it caused.
The Canberra local says it wasn’t easy for her husband or son to watch her struggle and her own mental health was affected.
“It was severe and it was awful and it was not a very nice disease to have,” the 51-year-old told AAP.
Ms Hately began experiencing psoriasis, which causes skin cells to grow too quickly, on her scalp as a child but it was only mild and could be treated with a topical cream.
The condition became far worse after the birth of her son in 2001, spreading to 70 per cent of her body.
None of the creams or other treatments she turned to for relief had a lasting effect.
That was until she became involved in a trial of a medicine for chronic plaque psoriasis – Tremfya (guselkumab) – about 18 months ago, which she says has completely cleared up her skin.
“It just slowly started going away and I am psoriasis-free.”
Her participation in a trial meant she had been receiving the medication for free, but as she will require it for the rest of her life, she would soon have been forced to pay $30,000 a year to maintain a supply.
But the medication will be subsidised by the federal government from February 1, through a listing on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, pushing its price down to $40.30 per script.
On average, people need about 10 scripts each year.
“Now that it’s on the PBS, it’s fantastic,” the just-retired public servant said.
Tremfya (guselkumab), which is delivered through injections, works by neutralising the activity of a specific protein and reducing proteins in the skin responsible for causing psoriasis plaques.
Another medicine that treats psoriasis by reducing inflammation and other symptoms, Illumya, will also be subsidised through the PBS.
It currently costs about $32,000 per year, and will also become $40.30 a script, with about 10 scripts per year required on average.
About 3600 people are expected to benefit from the two PBS listings, which had been recommended by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee.
Health Minister Greg Hunt says the listing have been made possible through the strong economic management of the government, which is making on average one PBS listing or amendment each day.
“Our commitment to the PBS is rock solid. Together with Medicare, it is a foundation of our world-class health care system,” he said in a statement.