KANGAROO Flat’s Noel Markey has reaped the benefits of a new stroke medication for two years, and is grateful it will soon change the lives of countless others.
The 82-year-old has been on warfarin since having a stroke 30 years ago, and said the recently government-subsidised Pradaxa gave him the freedom he always dreamed of.
He said he wouldn’t have been able to afford the drug if it wasn’t for the early access program, and now he can’t imagine life without it.
When taking warfarin, Noel had to travel to the doctor every week for long check-ups, was left with fragile skin “like a ripe peach” and was restricted to eating only certain types of food.
Now, he just takes a tablet twice a day.
“When you’re on warfarin, you can’t go on holidays, you just feel so fragile and it’s just no good at all,” he said.
Noel said it was psychologically damaging too – he “felt like a chronic invalid” all the time, having to constantly travel to the doctor.
“It’s a constant reminder that you’re sick but this new medication has helped me so much and the subsidy will make a huge difference to other people’s lives.”
His wife Mary said she “just wanted to kiss the ground”.
“We’re just so lucky to live in Australia, where the government subsidises medication for those on low incomes – we couldn’t live without it,” she said.
“Noel’s stroke came out of nowhere – he was healthy, a non-smoker, exercised regularly.
“And when you get older, all sorts of things go wrong so you end up relying on lots of medication.
“We couldn’t even afford to buy the kids’ presents if we had to buy Pradaxa outright.
“But you’d just do it because there’s no side effects, no bruising.
“We’re just so grateful to be looked after by the government.”
One thing Noel said he would miss was the nurses at the doctor’s surgery – who he calls “his angels”.
But he said even that was worth giving up to be on Pradaxa.
Experts hail new blood thinning treatment
THOUSANDS of Australians will benefit from a newly subsidised medication that prevents strokes in people with an irregular heartbeat.
Pradaxa will become listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme as of Sunday, giving people affordable access to the life-changing tablet.
Before the new listing, many at-risk patients took warfarin – a medicine that requires regular blood testing, restricts use of many foods and alcohol, and can cause significant bruising.
Because of this, two-thirds of stroke patients with an irregular heartbeat go without recommended blood-thinning medication.
But stroke experts are hopeful that the number of strokes caused by this common heart condition will drop significantly thanks to the listing.
“Atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat) is an important and treatable risk factor for stroke and this audit highlights the need for better use of stroke prevention medication,” said World Stroke Organisation president and director of neurology at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, Professor Stephen Davis AM.
Professor Davis welcomed the availability of a new generation of stroke prevention medications.
“About 100,000 Australians with diagnosed atrial fibrillation are currently untreated,” he said.
Many of these patients can now be treated with these next generation oral anticoagulants which will be readily accessible in Australia for the first time,” he said.
“An atrial fibrillation-related stroke occurs every hour-and-a-half in Australia. New treatment options are long overdue.”