Costly breast and lung cancer drugs on PBS

BREAST and lung cancer patients can now have affordable access to life-changing medicines that previously cost up to $80,000 for treatment.

Patients now pay just $6.10 (concessional) or $37.70 (general) for breakthrough lung cancer medicine Crizotinib and breast cancer treatments Perjeta, Herceptin and Kadcyla as a result of their official listing on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

The listings will cost taxpayers over a quarter-of-a-billion dollars but Minister for Health, Sussan Ley said access to new medicines is crucial if Australians are to beat life-threatening diseases such as cancer, as well as overcome chronic and degenerative conditions that can rob them of their independence.

"One in every $6 out of the $10 billion taxpayers invest in the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme every year is now spent on cancer treatments," she said. "Access to new medicines is crucial if we're to help Australians beat these diseases."

Ms Ley said Perjeta, Herceptin and Kadcyla were used to treat HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer and would benefit 590 patients per year. Kadcyla provides an additional line of therapy where the disease has progressed despite previous treatment, while the combination of Perjeta and Herceptin would provide a more effective treatment option for this cancer than Herceptin alone.

Crizotnib is used to treat Anaplastic Lymphoma Kinase-positive non-small cell lung cancer and will benefit approximately 154 patients with the rare life-threatening disease.

It will be listed through a managed entry scheme that will speed access for patients with the highest need for treatment.

This is the first treatment available on the PBS that specifically targets the ALK gene rearrangement.


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