Four life-changing cancer medicines, previously very expensive, will become available to thousands of Australian patients from 1 August.
The new listings on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), at a cost of $250 million to the government, mean patients will now pay a maximum of $39.50 per script. Concessional patients, such as pensioners, will pay just $6.40.
One of the drugs, Opdivo, has previously cost almost $50,000 per year for some patients. It is used to treat a type of head and neck cancer affecting almost 1,000 Australians.
Around 220 patients with a subtype of lymphoma cancer, relapsed or refractory mantle cell lymphoma, will benefit from the listing of Imbruvica, formerly costing $134,000 for a year’s treatment.
Neulasta, a drug helping to fight off infection, will save more than 1,500 chemotherapy patients $4,700 for a course of treatment.
Around 1,125 patients with rare types of leukaemia cancer, who would otherwise pay more than $18,000 per year, will also benefit from the listing of Pegasys.
Health Minister Greg Hunt, announcing the new listings at the Peter McCallum Centre on 15 July, said the cheaper drugs would benefit between 4000 to 5000 patients. He also said there was “some indication” there may be even more blood cancer patients than previously anticipated.
The government claims to be making on average one new PBS listing every day.