Melanoma treatment to be PBS-listed

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MSD has welcomed the Federal Government’s announcement that patients with the most deadly form of skin cancer – advanced melanoma – will be able to access the company’s anti-PD1 immunotherapy (pembrolizumab) on the PBS.

Keytruda is a prescription-only medicine suitable for adult patients with unresectable or metastatic melanoma.

News that Keytruda will be listed on the PBS from 1 September 2015 follows the registration of the medicine in April by Australia’s national medicines regulator and a positive recommendation from the expert advisory committee on pharmaceutical reimbursement in March 2015.

Dr Susanne Fiedler, MSD managing director, commended the Government for listing KEYTRUDA on the PBS.

“The Prime Minister’s announcement that KEYTRUDA will be made widely available for Australians with advanced melanoma will be welcomed by many patients fighting this disease and their families,” she says.

“However, we are concerned that Government will take over five months to list this medicine after it was given the green light by the TGA and PBAC in March.

“MSD commends the TGA and the PBAC for the rapid recommendations that both agencies provided in reviewing Keytruda. The TGA approved Keytruda three months faster than the standard process.”

Likewise, the PBAC recommended Keytruda on its first review whereas new cancer medicines often take two reviews for approval – adding eight months to the process, she says.

“Given this, we are disappointed that it has taken more than five months for the listing to occur. MSD was ready to supply Keytruda for listing on the PBS on 1 May.

“Advanced melanoma causes around 100 deaths every month in Australia, this is why we hope that the Minister reconsiders this decision and lists Keytruda by 1 August,” says Dr Fiedler.

She thanked the research institutes, clinicians and patients who participated in clinical trials in Australia which has led to the availability of KEYTRUDA.

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