Cancer medicines are about to get cheaper
EXCLUSIVE: Australians living with an aggressive form of brain cancer will benefit from a subsidy for expensive treatment from next month.
Together with new treatments for leukaemia and inflammatory disease of the large blood vessels, the drug Avastin will be available to patients for just $40.30 per script, or $6.50 with a concession card from August 1.
That is well down on the $31,200 per course of treatment some of Australia's 1000 suffers currently pay.
The new subsidies were approved by an independent committee and Health Minister Greg Hunt will announce on Sunday the government will provide $56 million to fund them.
Avastin won't cure the brain cancer known as recurrent and refractory glioblastoma (GBM) but it has been shown to buy patients three to four extra months of life.
The drug works to block a protein the cancer needs to grow blood vessels.
Sydney father and investment banker Michael Clout has welcomed the new subsidy for the anti-leukaemia drug Sprycel which has so far extended his life by five years.
Diagnosed with Philadelphia Chromosome Positive Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (Ph+ALL) in 2011, he was given two and a half years to live.
However, after taking part in a trial of the new drug Sprycel while receiving chemotherapy, radiotherapy and treatment a cord blood transplant he has defied the odds.
"I've been in remission for several years and I'm enjoying life as I was previously," he told News Corp.
"I'm training in the pool, running after the kids and taking a 50 mg pill every morning," he said.
The medicine kills the leukaemia cells in the bone marrow and allows normal red and white cell and platelet production to resume.
It is expected that 80 patients per year will benefit from the medicine, which without Pharmasutical Benefit Scheme subsidy, would cost more than $51,900 per year.
Nearly 900 patients with a condition called giant cell arteritis will benefit from a new subsidy for the drug Actemra.
This is inflammatory disease affects the large blood vessels of the scalp, neck and arms and causes the artery to narrow, which reduces the blood supply to the area and it can cause blindness.
Without the subsidy the drug would cost patients over $10,200 per course of treatment.
"Since 2013, our Government more than 2,100 new or amended items on the PBS," Mr Hunt said.
"This represents an average of around 30 listings per month, or one each day at an overall cost of around $10.6 billion," he said.