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CDK Inhibitors approved by PBAC but costs still an issue

BCNA News 20 Apr 2018

Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA) welcomes the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee’s (PBAC) recommendation that the new class of CDK 4/6 inhibitor drugs ribociclib (Kisqali) and palbociclib (lbrance) be listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), subject to successful negotiations on the costs of the drugs.

BCNA strongly urges the Australian Government and pharmaceutical companies Novartis and Pfizer to work together to find a price solution to ensure the drugs become available through the PBS as quickly as possible.

Without price agreement, BCNA is worried that many Australian women with metastatic breast cancer will remain in limbo as to whether these drugs that have been shown to significantly slow the progression of their incurable disease will ever be available to them.

BCNA CEO Kirsten Pilatti said: ‘BCNA has been running an advocacy campaign for around 18 months to have these drugs that cost around $5,000 per month added to the PBS. We are dismayed that the Australian system lags behind similar regulatory systems elsewhere in the world. For every day that it takes for the Government and the drug companies to come to an arrangement, there are more and more women and their families dealing with the life crisis that is metastatic breast cancer.’

‘While we have Compassionate Access Schemes for both drugs, they are restricted to people who are newly diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. We know that these drugs are showing great results in people who’ve already received treatment. The quicker we can have these drugs added to the PBS for first-line treatment, the more likely it is that Compassionate Access Schemes will open up to those in later line therapies,’ Ms Pilatti said.

CDK 4/6 inhibitors are a new class of targeted drugs used to treat hormone positive, HER2 negative metastatic breast cancer - the most common type of metastatic breast cancer. Both drugs are part of standard care for the initial treatment of metastatic breast cancer in many countries, including the USA, UK and Europe.

Leading medical oncologist and BCNA Board member Professor Fran Boyle has been a strong clinical voice on advocating for the addition of these to the PBS.

‘The biggest benefit of these drugs is that they can significantly slow down the progression of this incurable disease when combined with a hormone therapy drug. Palbociclib and ribociclib are oral therapies. Many women taking these drugs report that they experience a good quality of life without the toxic side effects of chemotherapy treatment.’

Professor Boyle said similar challenges were faced back in the early 2000s when we were advocating for Herceptin to be added to the PBS.

‘Many thousands of Australians are alive today because of Herceptin and because of the efforts of so many passionate and committed individuals, including consumers, clinicians, industry and within government at the time.’