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Advocacy

Current advocacy issues

Breast Cancer Network Australia Advocacy Agenda 2017

Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA) works to ensure that Australians affected by breast cancer receive the very best support, information, treatment and care appropriate to their individual needs. A key focus of our work is our advocacy with government and others for equitable and affordable access to the latest best practice breast cancer treatment and care.

In 2016, BCNA advocated on a number of issues of relevance to Australians affected by breast cancer. We had success in some areas and will continue to pursue those that have not been achieved through 2017.

Below is a list of our key advocacy issues and progress to date.

For more information on the processes to have a new drug approved for use in Australia and subsidised through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, visit the How breast cancer medicines are subsidised page.

Successful Success
Partial success Partial success
Outcome pending Outcome pending
Unsuccessful Unsuccessful

 

Issue

Progress

PBS listing of a CDK inhibitor (palbociclib or ribociclib) for women with hormone receptor positive, HER2-negative metastatic breast cancer

Outcome pending

Pending –The PBAC has deferred a decision on the application for palbociclib to be listed on the PBS and has rejected the application for ribociclib. The pharmaceutical companies which own these drugs  have advised they will resubmit them to PABC. No outcomes are expected until 2018.

Visit our palbociclib petition page for information on our campaign. Visit the Latest news pages to read about the PBAC outcomes for both of these drugs.

Faster access to new breast cancer drugs

Partial success

Partial success – The Federal Government has announced TGA processes will be changed to enable cancer drugs to be approved for use in Australia more quickly. These are due to be implemented in 2018. BCNA has attended stakeholder group meetings with TGA on this issue. Advocacy is ongoing to ensure these processes are implemented and Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) processes also allow faster listing of new drugs on the PBS to ensure new cancer drugs are accessible to all Australians who can benefit from them.

Access to specialised breast care nurses for people with metastatic  disease

Outcome pending

Ongoing – BCNA discussed this issue with Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt at a meeting in June 2017. The Minister requested a formal submission from us, which has been provided to the Minister’s office.

Formation of an Australian Metastatic Cancer Alliance

Partial success

Partial success – In May 2017, BCNA convened a round table meeting of 18 Australian cancer organisations to explore feasibility of forming an Austrlaian Metastatic Cancer Alliance. The meeting agreed to form a loose alliance where we will share information and submissions and work collaboratively on issues that affect for people with incurable cancers.

Access to breast reconstruction in Cairns

Partial success

Partial success – Following representations from BCNA,  Cairns Hospital brought breast reconstruction specialists from Brisbane to Cairns for a special weekend clinic. Fifty-eight women were assessed at the clinic, but only nine found to be eligible for reconstruction. These nine women are currently waiting advice on when their surgeries may be scheduled. BCNA is continuing to advocate for improved access to breast reconstruction for women in Far North Queensland.

Retention of pathology specimens beyond 10 years

Outcome pending

Outcome pending – The National Pathology Accreditation Advisory Council has released its draft report following its review of retention requirements. The report does not recommend any change to the current 10 year retention requirement. BCNA is continuing to advocate for breast cancer pathology specimens to be retained for more than 10 years.

PBS listing of goserelin (Zoladex) for premenopausal women with hormone receptor negative breast cancer

Partial success

Partial success – The PBAC has recommended that the current listing of goserelin be extended to include all premenopausal women having chemotherapy treatment for cancer. The Health Minister is now required to accept the recommendation so that PBS listing can be amended.

PBS listing of subcutaneous Herceptin (Herceptin SC)

Partial success

Partial success – listed on PBS on 1 April 2016 but not widely available in Australia

Indexation of Medicare breast cancer diagnostic imaging items

Partial success

Partial success – The Government announced in its 2017-18 Budget that indexation will resume for some diagnostic imaging items, including mammograms. Indexation for others, including breast ultrasound, remains frozen.

Proposed changes to Medicare bulk-billing incentives for pathology and diagnostic imaging

Partial success

Partial success – The Government decided not to proceed with these changes but will continue to review.

Medicare rebate for Breast MRI

Partial success

Partial success – The Medicare rebate was extended to include two new indications but work is ongoing to extend the rebate further. A new application has been submitted to MSAC, with support from BCNA.

Medicare rebate for Oncotype DX molecular testing

Outcome pending

Outcome pending – awaiting MSAC recommendation

Medicare rebate for Mammaprint molecular testing

Outcome pending

Outcome pending – awaiting MSAC recommendation

Medicare rebate for Prosigna molecular testing

Outcome pending

Outcome pending – awaiting MSAC recommendation

Medicare rebate for two new fertility items for young people diagnosed with cancer

Outcome pending

Outcome pending – awaiting MSAC recommendation

Increased access to Intraoperative radiotherapy in Australian hospitals

Partial success

Partial success – Listed on the MBS. BCNA is lobbying state governments to have this technology made available in more hospitals across Australia. Currently it is available at hospitals in Perth and Melbourne.

Access to Government-subsidised in-home child care for young families with a parent with cancer

Outcome pending

Ongoing – BCNA continues to raise this issue with the Australian Government when the opportunity arises

Improved public understanding of metastatic breast cancer and the needs of people affected

Partial success

Partial success – BCNA participated in the international steering committee for the Global Status of Metastatic Breast Cancer 2005-2015 Decade Report project that reported on the political, societal and scientific landscape of metastatic breast cancer

Improved data collection on the incidence and prevalence of metastatic breast cancer

Outcome pending

Ongoing – BCNA has joined with the Global Metastatic Breast Cancer Alliance to advocate for improved data collection through our national cancer registries. Results from Cancer Australia’s STaR project (due 2018) will inform our work in this area.

Improved access to palliative care for people with metastatic breast cancer

Partial success

Partial success – BCNA collaborated with Palliative Care Australia to develop a new decision aid tool kit to assist people to understand how palliative care can help them and improve their access to local services.

Access to superannuation for Australians with a terminal illness

Partial success

Partial success – Time frame extended to 24 months but more work to be done to make application processes less complex

Protection of death benefit cover for people who access their superannuation under the terminal illness provision under the extended time frame of 24 months to live

Outcome pending

Ongoing – BCNA has provided a submission to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services inquiry into the Life Insurance Industry and into the Productivity Commission inquiry into the competitiveness and efficiency of the Australian superannuation system.

Access to lymphoedema services

Outcome pending

Ongoing – BCNA is working with other stakeholders in Victoria and New South Wales to improve access to lymphoedema services in those states

PBS listing of Nolvadex (tamoxifen) for women at moderate or high risk of developing breast cancer

Successful

Successful – listed on PBS on 1 October 2016

Medicare rebate for DXA bone mineral density scans

Unsuccessful

Unsuccessful – MSAC did not recommend listing on the Medicare Benefit Schedule.