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BCNA News 23 Aug 2017

Improved access to fertility preservation for young women

Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA) has welcomed the recommendation of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee* (PBAC) that the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) listing for goserelin (Zoladex) be expanded so that all premenopausal women undergoing chemotherapy which may negatively impact their fertility can access goserelin through the PBS.

This change would enable young women with hormone receptor negative early breast cancer to be treated with goserelin through the PBS.

Goserelin has been found to reduce the likelihood of early menopause in women with hormone receptor negative early breast cancer being treated with chemotherapy. It has also been found to preserve fertility in some women receiving chemotherapy. The POEMS international trial of around 200 premenopausal women with hormone receptor negative early breast cancer found that the women who received monthly injections of goserelin while undergoing chemotherapy were more likely to become pregnant after their breast cancer treatment than those who did not receive goserelin.

In 2015, goserelin was added to the PBS for premenopausal women with hormone receptor positive early breast cancer. While this change was welcome, the Medical Oncology Group of Australia (MOGA) and BCNA have been advocating for women with hormone receptor negative early breast cancer to also have access to goserelin through the PBS.

In September 2016, BCNA wrote a letter in support of an application by MOGA to the PBAC to enable young women with hormone receptor negative early breast cancer to access goserelin for the prevention of chemotherapy-induced early menopause at a subsidised cost through the PBS.

It is important for young women to have access to affordable fertility preservation treatments. Young women with hormone receptor negative early breast cancer who wish to access goserelin currently have to pay approximately $330 per month, which puts the drug out of reach for some women who may benefit from it. On the PBS, women will be able to be treated with goserelin for the cost of a script fee - currently $38.80 per month, or $6.39 with a concession card.

The Federal Government will need to approve the recommendation before the change can be made to the PBS listing. The PBAC’s recommendation is an important first step in helping to ensure young women with hormone receptor negative early breast cancer have affordable access to a drug which may help to preserve their fertility while they undergo chemotherapy.

BCNA will keep you updated about with any news about a listing date. 

*The PBAC is the independent body that reviews new drugs and makes recommendations on which should be subsidised by the Australian Government through the PBS.

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