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BCNA News 18 Dec 2017

Australians still waiting for equitable access to new drugs

Australians still waiting for equitable access to new drugs despite growing evidence of their effectiveness in slowing down metastatic breast cancer

CDK inhibitors

Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA) is disappointed that the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) has rejected submissions for CDK inhibitors palbociclib and ribociclib to be listed on the PBS despite a growing body of evidence that the drugs significantly slow the spread of metastatic breast cancer.

Long-term follow up data from clinical trials presented at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium this month has shown that palbociclib can slow down the progression of cancer for up to 27.6 months, compared with 14.5 months for women who were on hormone treatment alone.

New data was also presented at San Antonio showing that the drug ribociclib was an effective treatment not only for post-menopausal women but also for younger women diagnosed with hormone positive, HER2 negative metastatic breast cancer. Data presented from the MONALEESA-7 trial that showed that adding ribociclib to standard hormone therapy and temporary ovarian suppression significantly improved progression-free survival (PFS) for pre- and peri-menopausal women, 22.1 months versus 11.0 months.

BCNA Director of Policy and Advocacy Danielle Spence said BCNA is very disappointed that despite growing evidence that these drugs slow down the disease and improve quality of life, Australian women are still missing out.

“CDK inhibitors are being used around the world as part of standard care to treat hormone receptor positive, HER2-negative metastatic breast cancer, the most common type of breast cancer. We need to find a way to make them accessible in Australia without a huge price tag. Currently the cost of these drugs is around $5,000 per month – putting them out of reach of most Australian families,” Danielle said.

BCNA is strongly urging the PBAC and industry to work together to find a resolution so that at least one of the CDK inhibitors can be quickly added to the PBS, making this class of drugs available to all Australians who can benefit from them.  

“BCNA continues to hear stories about women who are cashing in their super or looking for other sources of funding to pay for them. More rarely we hear stories of women who have been able to access the drugs through a compassionate access scheme, such as the Novartis scheme, and they tell us how these drugs have changed their life – they are able to work, care for their family, travel and do the things that make them happy. These are the stories we want to be hearing more of but not everyone qualifies or hears about compassionate access schemes – that’s why we need these drugs on our PBS,” Danielle said.

BCNA will continue to advocate to the PBAC, industry and the Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt for listing of one or more CDK inhibitors on the PBS.


For media interviews please contact Sophie Benjamin on 0410 976 991