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BCNA News 30 Sep 2020

Drug company pulls pin on PBS listing of Faslodex (fulvestrant)

BCNA was very disappointed to learn in September that drug company AstraZeneca has pulled out of discussions with the Australian Department of Health to have Faslodex (fulvestrant) listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

Faslodex has been used for many years to treat hormone receptor positive metastatic breast cancer. While it can be used on its own, it is now more often used in combination with the CDK4/6 inhibitors ribociclib, palbociclib and abemaciclib. Clinical trials have shown very good outcomes when a CDK inhibitor is given in combination with fulvestrant.

BCNA has been calling on AstraZeneca to submit an application for Faslodex to be listed on the PBS for many years. These calls were driven by our members, who have told us about their concerns with the cost. Many of them could not afford to buy it, although it had been recommended to them by their medical oncologist.

An application was submitted earlier this year and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee, which makes recommendations to the Australian Government on drugs to be listed on the PBS, recommended fulvestrant be added. This was very good news, particularly as Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt has given a commitment that the Government will add to the PBS any drugs recommended by the PBAC.

BCNA has learnt that AstraZeneca is not pursuing the listing because it is unhappy with the price the Health Department has offered to pay for it.

This means Faslodex will not be added to the PBS and will remain out of reach for many Australians living with metastatic breast cancer and their families.

What is BCNA doing about this?

BCNA and representatives of the Medical Oncology Group of Australia (MOGA) have met with AstraZeneca to discuss its decision. We have been told that AstraZeneca sees no way forward for PBS listing.

We have asked the company to review its current patient access program, which requires patients to pay for the first three months of Faslodex treatment, at a cost of $1,600 per month. We have asked for the cost to be reduced. We have also asked that the program eligibility guidelines be loosened so that more people are eligible. We are concerned that people living in rural and regional parts of Australia and our First Nations peoples, in particular, are disadvantaged by the set-up of the current program.

BCNA CEO Kirsten Pilatti is also contacting AstraZeneca’s global headquarters, in the UK, to discuss the decision not to pursue a PBS listing and ask them to review it.

We will keep you informed of our progress through the website and our Network News email bulletins.