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Minister announces two new listings on the PBS

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Two major 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 almost $190,000 a year.

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month and from November 1, patients with advanced lung cancer will have the treatment Keytruda®  subsidised for first-line treatment of metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). 

Without PBS subsidy it would cost 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.

This listing means that for the first time eligible patients with advanced lung cancer can avoid chemotherapy and be treated with this novel immunotherapy treatment Keytruda®. It will benefit about 850 patients a year.

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 has shown that some patients became virtually cancer free after treatment.

This medicine is already listed on the PBS for classical Hodgkin’s lymphoma and unresectable Stage III or Stage IV malignant melanoma.

The Federal Government is also listing Repatha® from November 1 for the treatment of familial hypercholesterolaemia, which is a genetic high cholesterol condition.

More than 6,000 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.

These listings with help the thousands of Australians and their families fighting lung cancer and the devastating impact of heart disease.

In announcing the new listings, Health Minister Greg Hunt said the Government was providing Australian patients with access to life-saving and life-changing medicines quicker than ever before.

“We are now making on average one new or amended PBS listing every single day,” Mr Hunt said.

“In the Budget we announced our commitment to invest $2.4 billion in new medicines to build on our commitment to guarantee those essential services that all Australians rely on.

“Our commitment to the PBS is rock solid. Together with Medicare, it is a foundation of our world-class health care system.”

The independent Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) recommended the listings that have been announced.

The Committee is independent of Government by law and in practice. By law, the Federal Government cannot list a new medicine without a positive recommendation from PBAC.