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Seriously ill Gippslanders are set to benefit as four new medicines will be subsidised by the Federal Government to help patients fighting aggressive forms of cancer and inflammatory conditions.

Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester said treatments for brain tumours, leukaemia and inflammatory disease of the large blood vessels will be available to patients for just $40.30 per script, or $6.50 with a concession card, following their addition to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).  The new PBS listings effective from, August 1, 2019 include:

  • Avastin® (bevacizumab), a medicine for the treatment of patients living with refractory glioblastoma, brain tumours that are resistant to previous treatments. Over 900 Australians living with an aggressive form of brain cancer, will soon benefit from Avastin. Without PBS subsidy, the drug could cost up to $31,200 per course of treatment.
  • Sprycel® (dasatinib), will be extended on the PBS to include newly diagnosed Philadelphia chromosome positive acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL), a cancer of white blood cells in the bone marrow. It is expected that 80 patients per year will benefit from this listing. Without PBS subsidy patients would pay more than $51,900 per year for this treatment.
  • Actemra® (tocilizumab), is being listed on the PBS for the treatment of giant cell arteritis. This is an inflammatory disease affecting the large blood vessels of the scalp, neck and arms. This listing could benefit an average of 852 patients per year, who would pay over $10,200 per course of treatment.
  • Somatuline®, Autogel® (lanreotide), for non-functional gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumour (GEP-NETs) is being extended to include access through community pharmacy in addition to hospitals. Somatuline Autogel was listed for GEP-NETs from 1 December 2018, at that time 760 patients per year were expected to benefit from that listing saving them up to $23,000 a year.

Mr Chester said each of the medicines had been recommended to be added to the PBS by the independent expert Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC).

The Federal Government cannot list a new medicine without a positive recommendation from the PBAC.

Mr Chester said a strong economy allowed the Federal Government to provide Australians with affordable medicines, when they need them.

“Since 2013, the Federal Government has listed more than 2,100 new or amended items on the PBS which is around 30 new listings per month – or one a day,” Mr Chester said.

“The Federal Government’s plan for a strong economy continues to deliver record funding for medications and essential health services that saves lives.

“The Federal Government’s commitment to the PBS is rock solid.  Together with Medicare, it is a foundation of our world-class health care system.”

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