Update: This letter was received from the Minister for Health in regards to the removal of Vagifem pessaries from the PBS.
Letter from Australian Government RE pessaries
Tony Abbott PM, Minister for Women
Susan Lee MP. Minister for Health
Today I was talking to a patient who told me that Vagifem pessaries have been removed from the PBS as of 1st May, 2015. Vagifem pessaries are a form of local oestrogen that a significant number of FEMALE pensioners or women holding health care cards are currently using to maintain or improve their pelvic health. That now means that the price of Vagifem has increased from $6.10 for a box to $26 for a box. Women are often on Vagifem for 30 years. Now I would like to know- On what basis are these decisions made?
The lady in question actually wants to discuss other options, because on a pension, for her, that is a large increase that makes her want to stop using it.
Vagifem assists women who are post-menopausal to re-oestrogenise their vaginal tissues and helps significantly with improved tissue quality, increased vaginal lubrication, improved urethral sphincter tone (and therefore potentially improved continence) and can even help with better anal sphincter tone potentially improving faecal incontinence (there are local oestrogen receptors throughout the uro-genital region – all of these things are terribly important affecting the quality of life – in the most basic way– for women).
Because I don’t know how these decisions are made, I could be cynical and say there isn’t going to be much fuss from the women because women are pretty silent about their vaginas in general. They don’t blab about their incontinence, their prolapse or their painful sex because many people (women and men) get embarrassed if we go on a lot about those topics. I have to say I am very disappointed that a female Health Minister (who must be pre-menopausal or doesn’t yet know the distress that a de-oestrogenized vagina causes) has signed off on this change.
I wonder if Change.org or Get Up can start a petition about this on behalf of all the pensioner women on Vagifem.
I suggest you share this blog to all your post-menopausal friends and your local member and let’s start a bit of a fuss!