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BCNA News 10 Jul 2017

Palbociclib petition update – a new wave of treatment

Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA) would like to extend its gratitude to the more than 32,000 Australians who signed the online petition for the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) listing of palbociclib, the life-extending metastatic breast cancer drug.

We have now closed the petition, but the campaign to list palbociclib and other CDK inhibitors on the PBS continues.

Palbociclib and other CDK inhibitor drugs are targeted breast cancer therapies for the treatment of hormone positive, HER2-negative metastatic breast cancer (the most common subtype of metastatic breast cancer). These oral therapies (tablets) have been shown to extend the length of time before the cancer spreads. Many women on these drugs report good quality of life and manageable side effects.

BCNA has continued its advocacy efforts in the past fortnight with important meetings with major decision makers, including a meeting at Parliament House with the Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt and a consumer hearing with members of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC).

During the meetings, BCNA emphasised the importance that women placed upon having affordable access to treatments that could help them live well and keep their cancer from spreading for as long as possible.

BCNA CEO Christine Nolan says the petition has helped raise public awareness around the importance of this new class of drugs.

‘We want to thank the more than 32,000 Australians who signed the petition and helped us show major decision makers how important affordable access to palbociclib and other CDK inhibitor drugs is to Australians,’ Christine said.

‘While our petition has closed, this is not the end of our campaign. We will continue to advocate for these drugs to be made available on the PBS. We are calling upon the PBAC to convene a stakeholder meeting that brings together committee members, consumers, the manufacturers and leading medical oncologists so that we can all work together to advance the approval process,’ she said.

BCNA has received a number of enquiries from women with metastatic breast cancer about how to access CDK inhibitors. Palbociclib is approved for sale in Australia on private script, however at a cost of thousands of dollars a month. BCNA is calling upon Pfizer, that manufactures palbociclib, to open a compassionate access scheme so that Australian women can benefit from this drug. 

Novartis, that manufactures ribociclib (a similar drug to palbociclib), has opened a compassionate access scheme for newly diagnosed metastatic patients. The definition of newly diagnosed means that you have had no treatment for metastatic breast cancer or you have had less than 29 days of treatment with letrozole or anastrozole.

For more information on how to access ribociclib please see our in-depth update.