New PBS listings benefit lung cancer, cholesterol patients

Tuesday, 30 October, 2018

New PBS listings benefit lung cancer, cholesterol patients

Two new listings on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) have the potential to extend the lives of Australians with advanced lung cancer and those at risk of a heart attack, saving patients up to nearly $190,000 a year.

From 1 November, patients with advanced lung cancer will have the treatment Keytruda subsidised for first-line treatment of metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). This listing means that, for the first time, eligible patients with advanced lung cancer can avoid chemotherapy and be treated with this novel immunotherapy.

Already listed on the PBS for classical Hodgkin’s lymphoma and unresectable Stage III or Stage IV malignant melanoma, Keytruda is an immunotherapy medicine working with a patient’s own immune system to recognise cancer cells and destroy them. Clinical trials of Keytruda for lung cancer have shown that some patients became virtually cancer-free after treatment.

Without PBS subsidy, Keytruda would cost lung cancer patients over $11,300 per script or $188,000 a year. Patients will now pay a maximum of $39.50 per script or just $6.40 per script for concessional patients, including pensioners.

The government is also listing Repatha from 1 November for the treatment of familial hypercholesterolaemia, a genetic high-cholesterol condition. More than 6000 people with the condition, who are at risk of having a heart attack or stroke at an early age, will benefit from the treatment.

Patients would normally pay around $630 a script, or more than $8000 a year. With its listing on the PBS, eligible patients will pay a maximum of $39.50 per script for Repatha or just $6.40 with a concession card.

The listings come courtesy of the independent Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC), which recommended the drug’s addition to the PBS. By law the federal government cannot list a new medicine without a positive recommendation from PBAC.

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