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Subsidy for Verzenio (abemaciclib) expanded on the PBS

BCNA News 26 Oct 2021

Subsidy for Verzenio (abemaciclib) expanded on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme

Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA) welcomes the expansion of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) listing of Verzenio (abemaciclib) to include its use in combination with Faslodex (fulvestrant).

This combination will be subsidised from 1 November 2021 for non-premenopausal breast cancer patients with hormone receptor positive (HR+) and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 negative (HER2-) inoperable locally advanced or metastatic breast cancer.

Abemaciclib has been included on the PBS as a breast cancer treatment treatment by itself since 2020, and fulvestrant since early 2021. BCNA took a lead role in advocating for the inclusion of fulvestrant on the PBS.

Studies into combination therapies for breast cancer are often promising, especially for metastatic breast cancer. Research conducted on the combination of abemaciclib and fulvestrant shows an improvement in overall survival of about nine months in metastatic patients compared with fulvestrant alone1.  

BCNA supports this new combination treatment option and what it means for those living with metastatic breast cancer. As there is no cure for metastatic breast cancer, patients rely on new treatments, and new combinations of treatments, to extend the time before their cancer progresses. Extending this time can mean more time spent with family and loved ones and, for some, more time in employment or in other roles such as volunteering or caring.

One of the largest barriers in accessing new treatments before they enter the PBS is cost. Prior to it being listed on the PBS, a course of this treatment would cost consumers around $80,000 if self-funded. The prescription now costs only $41.30 per script. The Department of Health estimates that the extension of the PBS to cover abemaciclib in combination with fulvestrant will benefit around 1,600 Australians, and their families each year2.

BCNA wrote to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) earlier this year in support of the extension of the PBS to cover abemaciclib in combination with fulvestrant. It is encouraging to see the voices and concerns of our consumers listened to.  

We know that there continues to be significant financial burden associated with breast cancer, and alleviating this burden remains a priority for BCNA. We will continue to call on government and the pharmaceutical industry to address any gaps in access to new and existing breast cancer treatments to ensure the best possible care for all Australians with breast cancer.   

We recommend talking to your treatment team if you have any questions about abemaciclib or fulvestrant.

  1. https://www.breastcancer.org/research-news/verzenio-plus-faslodex-improves-overall-survival
  2. https://www.health.gov.au/ministers/the-hon-greg-hunt-mp/media/breast-cancer-treatment-expanded-on-the-pharmaceutical-benefits-scheme