Cancer drugs made available on PBS for gastro-intestinal cancer patients

The Department of Health has announced on Saturday 1 December that five new cancer listings have been made available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

This means gastro-intestinal cancer patients with advanced colorectal cancer and advanced gastroentero-pancreatic neuroendocrine tumours (NETs) will have access to more affordable treatments. Patients with acute myeloid leukaemia, melanoma, and ovarian cancer will also benefit.

These listings will be subsidised so that patients will pay only $39.50 per script, or $6.40 per script for concessional patients. This will give patients access to treatments that they could not otherwise afford. For example, Lonsurf, an oral chemotherapy treatment for advanced colorectal cancer which slows down the growth and spread of cancer cells, could cost patients $6,000 a year without the PBS subsidy. For some patients, these treatments could cost up to $100,000 a year without PBS listing.

Professor Tim Price, Chair of the AGITG (2013-2020), says, “One of the challenges that clinicians face in treating advanced metastatic colorectal cancer is the lack of proven treatment options on the PBS. These listings give me something I can offer my patients regardless of their molecular status or resistance to previous lines of treatment.

“It’s great news because I now have treatments that could give my patients some extra time.”