New listings

Health Minister Greg Hunt has highlighted new PBS listings for melanoma and multiple sclerosis treatments

On 1 November, the Morrison Government will expand the current PBS listings of Tafinlar (dabrafenib) and Mekinist (trametinib) to include subsidy for post-surgery treatment for patients who have Stages IIIB, IIIC and IIID melanoma, he said.

“Over 260 patients per year are expected to benefit from this listing each year.

“Without the PBS subsidy, patients might otherwise pay more than $128,900 for each course of treatment for these medicines,” the Minister said, highlighting the fact that Australia has one of the highest melanoma rates in the world – 11 times the worldwide average.

“It is estimated 15,229 Australians will be diagnosed with melanoma in 2019, and approximately 400 will have Stage III resected BRAF mutation positive melanoma.”

Novartis welcomed the listing, saying that until now, there have been limited options available for people diagnosed with Stage III BRAF mutation positive melanoma, with nearly one in two experiencing a recurrence of their melanoma within one year after their surgery to remove the cancer. In some cases, this left people with cancer that had progressed to an incurable state, it said.

Associate Professor Victoria Atkinson, Medical Oncologist at Greenslopes Private Hospital, said, “The availability of the reimbursed treatment is good news for eligible patients”.

“As an oncologist, I know the stress and anxiety these patients experience post-surgery when they are fearful of their cancer recurring.

“Being able to access therapy to reduce this risk is of significant benefit to my patients.”

Additionally, paediatric patients being treated for relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis will benefit from the extension of two medicines listings.

The current PBS listing of Gilenya (fingolimod) will be amended to include a new strength of this medicine for treatment of patients weighing 40kg or less, including paediatric patients, Mr Hunt said.

“Up to 17 patients with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis are expected to benefit from this listing each year. Without the PBS subsidy, patients might otherwise pay more than $28,800 for a course of treatment.

 “The PBS listing of Tysabri (natalizumab) will be extended to remove the age restrictions for this medicine, to subsidise use in paediatric patients with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis.

 “Without the PBS subsidy, patients might otherwise pay more than $17,500 each year and it is expected that an additional 10 patients per year will have access to this medicine.”

Last week Medicines Australia welcomed the publication of the Department of Health’s annual report, showing net expenditure on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme has risen by over 4% in 2018-19 to $9.8 billion.

“Medicines Australia and our members understand the immense value gained from investing in new medicines and expanding indications, to make medicines available to more Australian patients when they need them,” said Medicines Australia CEO Elizabeth de Somer.

“We know that investing in listing new medicines and expanded indications is an investment worth making and we are pleased that the additional investment in the PBS, demonstrated in the Department of Health annual report, is a signal that this is being recognised by Government.”

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