Immunoglobulin (Ig) products provide critical therapy for people with immunodeficiencies and immune-type neurological conditions, but demand is growing and supply is limited, so it is important that these products are used appropriately.
To ensure demand can be met safely, equitably and affordably, there are strict eligibility rules about access to and use of government-funded Ig products. The rules are managed by the National Blood Authority, under its Immunoglobulin Governance Program.
The Value in Prescribing Program: Immunoglobulin Products consortium is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and works with the National Blood Authority.
The program will foster responsible stewardship of immunoglobulin products and ensure the viable and sustainable supply of Ig products in accordance with the National Policy, including the Criteria for the Clinical use of Immunoglobulin in Australia. Developing educational resources and initiatives to help patients and health professionals make safe and wise therapeutic decisions about using Ig products will also helphealth services to meet the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC) Ntional Standard for Blookd and Blood Products Safety and Quality.
Members of the consortium are:
- Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA)
- NPS MedicineWise
- Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia (SHPA)
The consortium’s Program Partner is the National Blood Authority.
Strategic advice, governance support and clinical input to the program is provided by The National Immunoglobulin Governance Advisory Committee (NIGAC). NIGAC is the peak committee established under the National Immunoglobulin Governance Program to provide and make recommendations to further strengthen immunoglobulin use in Australia.
The consortium will engage with a range of stakeholders and experts including neurologists, immunologists and haematologists. Consultation with a wide range of specialty areas such as nurses, immunoglobulin product dispensers, and transfusion scientists will also inform program development. The program will also engage with consumers of immunoglobulin products, both patients and their carers, throughout the development of resources.
The educational resources, tools and interventions developed will support
- specialist prescribers
- dispensers of immunoglobulin products such as hospital pharmacists and transfusion scientists including laboratory scientists and technical officers
- nurses, and
The Value in Prescribing Program: Immunoglobulin Products will run over three years until June 2022.
Information developed through this program will be published from October 2020 and available through this website and through stakeholder and partner websites.
What information will be available?
Information about the use of immunoglobulin products in Australia will include:
- access and governance arrangements for the use of immunoglobulin products in Australia
- information about the use of immunoglobulin products for
- primary immune deficiency
- secondary and acquired hypogammaglobulinaemia
- chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy
- myasthenia gravis
- links to information on consortium, stakeholder and program partner websites.
What information and resources will be available for health professionals and health services?
Specialists and clinicians
The approved uses for immunoglobulin products are set out in the Criteria for the Clinical Use of Intravenous Immunoglobulin in Australia, but specialists must make daily decisions such as:
- which individual patients are likely to benefit from immunoglobulin therapy?
- what is an adequate response to therapy, and what are the indicators of success and failure?
- for which patients would a trial of weaning and cessation be appropriate?
The content for this program will be developed based on current evidence and expert opinion to support clinical practice and decision-making across the course of immunoglobulin ordering, prescribing and delivery. Resources will include educational meetings, clinical content articles and decision support tools.
Dispensers of immunoglobulin products
Dispensers of immunoglobulin play a crucial role in supporting the safe, quality management and use of immunoglobulin products in health services and ensuring that the right immunoglobulin products are available for patients at the right time.
Educational resources and tools for dispensers and hospital pharmacists will be available on this website and through the Society of Hospital Pharmacists (SHPA) and other partner and stakeholder websites.
This includes online learning modules, webinars and case studies. These activities will:
- facilitate operational efficiencies in the ordering, dispensing and reconciling of immunoglobulin products for use in accordance with current access arrangements and patient authorisation
- provide evidence-based information on the role of immunoglobulins in the treatment of a range of neurological, immunological and haematological conditions.
Nurses play a crucial role in educating and supporting patients who are being treated with immunoglobulin products.
This website will link to online learning modules, webinars and case studies with evidence-based information on:
- access to and supply of immunoglobulin products
- administration of these products
- the role of immunoglobulins in treating a range of immunology, haematology and neurology conditions.
Hospital Drug and Therapeutics Committees
Information, tools and resources will support Drug and Therapeutics Committees to achieve good medicines governance and assist in policy framing.
Resources will include Guiding Principles and checklists designed to facilitate sustainable and appropriate use of immunoglobulin products.
What information and resources will be available for consumers?
Consumers will find clear information on Ig products and how they work on this site and on partner websites.
This will include fact sheets, videos, action plans and patient decision aids to help them:
- work out what they want in their treatment and tell their doctors
- build better relationships with their health professionals.
Useful NPS MedicineWise resources
Australian Prescriber – an independent peer-reviewed journal providing critical commentary on drugs and therapeutics for health professionals.
Choosing Wisely – a global health initiative that is enabling clinicians, consumers and healthcare stakeholders to start important conversations about tests, treatments and procedures, where evidence shows they provide no benefit, or in some cases, lead to harm.
RADAR – timely, independent, evidence-based information on new drugs and medical tests and changes to listings on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and Medicare Benefits Schedule.
MedicineWise app – a free app enabling consumer to keep track of medicines and access important health information. Funded by the Australian Government Department of Health.
Fact sheet: Choosing Wisely – Immunoglobulin products
Immunoglobulin products are a type of treatment made from plasma donated by healthy volunteers. This factsheet contains helpful information about immunoglobulin products and a list of five important questions to ask your doctor if you or someone you care for has been prescribed one of these products.
Fact sheet: Immunoglobulin Products in Australia – Information about access and consent
Immunoglobulin products are a precious resource. This fact sheet outlines the careful management process required to ensure adequate and affordable supply of immunoglobulin products to Australians who need them.
This fact sheet also provides helpful information on the types of consent you should provide during your treatment with immunoglobulin products.
Fact sheet: Switching immunoglobulin products – What should I know? What can I do?
Find out more about why product changes sometimes occur, what you can expect when you change products (and why), and what you can do to prepare if you are asked to change.
More consumer information will continue to be developed. Please keep checking back regularly for more content, tools to support your treatment and helpful links to more places to find the information you need.