BCNA News 18 Nov 2020
PBS listing of Faslodex (fulvestrant) remains unlikely
BCNA was very disappointed to learn in September that drug company AstraZeneca had 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 sometimes used on its own, it is now often used in combination with the new CDK4/6 inhibitor drugs – Kisqali (ribociclib), Ibrance (palbociclib) and Verzenio (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 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.
The Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee, which makes recommendations to the Australian Government on drugs to be listed on the PBS, has recommended fulvestrant be added. However BCNA understands that AstraZeneca has decided not to go ahead with 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 continue to remain out of reach for many Australians living with metastatic breast cancer and their families.
What has BCNA done about this?
Since September, BCNA has been working behind the scenes, and then publicly through the media, to put pressure on AstraZeneca to return to the table and reach an agreement with the Health Department.
Representatives from BCNA and the Medical Oncology Group of Australia (MOGA) met with AstraZeneca on two occasions to discuss its decision. BCNA CEO Kirsten Pilatti also contacted AstraZeneca’s global headquarters in the UK on the issue. We have been told that AstraZeneca sees no way forward for PBS listing.
Kirsten also wrote to the Federal Minister for Health, Hon. Greg Hunt, letting him know our concerns. The Minister replied, advising he had urged the company to renew discussions with the Department.
More recently, BCNA raised the issue through the media, including a segment on Weekend Sunrise (7 Network) with the Chair of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee, Professor Andrew Wilson. Other media includes:
- News Corp online - national
- Herald Sun, Geelong Advertiser, Hobart Mercury, Courier Mail and Adelaide Advertiser newspapers
- Channel 7 News - national
- Channel 10 News - national
BCNA has also been in discussion with stakeholders regarding a generic version of fulvestrant which we hope will be available next year. We are working with the company involved and the Australian Government to get this drug listed on the PBS as quickly as possible.
Faslodex patient access program
AstraZeneca offers a patient access program for Faslodex, which requires patients to pay for the first three months of treatment, at a cost of $1,600 per month.
BCNA and MOGA have asked for the cost of this program to be reduced, and for 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. Unfortunately AstraZeneca has declined to alter the program.
If you are interested in using Faslodex as a treatment, your medical oncologist will be able to discuss this program with you and make an application to AstraZeneca for you.