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Federal budget gives a lifeline to 3,000 women with incurable breast cancer

BCNA News 08 May 2018

Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA) applauds the announcement of funding for ribociclib (Kisqali) to be available through the PBS from 1 July. The drug is a lifeline for women newly diagnosed with hormone positive HER2- negative metastatic breast cancer.

Tonight’s announcement follows two years of lobbying efforts from BCNA and demonstrates the power of the consumer's voice in making new drugs that significantly slow down the progress of incurable disease affordable to all.

BCNA commends Minister Hunt for his efforts to respond swiftly to the positive PBAC recommendation in April and ensure that there were no delays with Cabinet approval once an acceptable price was reached between the Government and the drug company Novartis.

BCNA CEO Kirsten Pilatti said, “Over the past two years we have heard from women who have paid as much as $5,000 per month to access this type of drug. To know that more than 3,000 women every year will be able to receive ribociclib for around $39 per month is fantastic news”.

Ribociclib which is taken in combination with hormonal therapy has been shown in clinical trials to slow down the progress of metastatic breast cancer by more than 25 months and is generally well tolerated by women.

BCNA member Val Royal has been taking ribociclib since August 2017 and said, “I have experienced very few side effects from these tablets and have no pain from the breast cancer that has spread to my bones. It is so important for me to feel well and to know that all my results continue to be good. For anyone who meets me, they would never know I am living with an incurable illness. This gives me the privacy I need and helps me live my life to the full”.

The 1 July listing means that any women who are currently receiving ribociclib through compassionate access schemes will transition over to the PBS from this date.

BCNA is disappointed that drug company Pfizer has not been able to reach a price agreement with the Government for its similar drug palbociclib (Ibrance) and is urging it to continue discussions and keep compassionate access schemes open during this time. Any woman currently receiving palbociclib through compassionate access should speak with their medical oncologist.