Key treatment step in Oz

LETTER

Australians with advanced lung cancer and genetic high-cholesterol conditions will have cheaper access to potent medical treatments after their government announced the listing of two drugs on their pharmaceutical benefits scheme (PBS).

The subsidising of Keytruda, from November 1, will bring down the cost of an individual script from $11,300 — or $188,000 for an entire year of treatment — to a maximum of $39.50 for approximately 850 people who are diagnosed with advanced lung cancer every year.

The immunopherapy drug will be available to patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer, the most common kind of cancer, and allow them to avoid chemopherapy. Keytruda is already listed on Australia’s PBS for classical Hodgkin’s lymphoma and advanced melanoma.

“Clinical trials of Keytruda for lung cancer have shown that some patients became virtually cancer-free after treatment,” Health Minister Greg Hunt said on Sunday.

Australia becomes the 40th country to fund Keytruda for advanced lung cancer. This immunopherapy assists a patient’s immune system to fight cancer cells.

While we are pleased for lung cancer patients and Australia, this news highlights how far behind New Zealand really is. The New Zealand Government needs to make lung cancer a national priority.

Alain Jorion, Lung Foundation NZ ambassador

Australians with advanced lung cancer and genetic high-cholesterol conditions will have cheaper access to potent medical treatments after their government announced the listing of two drugs on their pharmaceutical benefits scheme (PBS).

The subsidising of Keytruda, from November 1, will bring down the cost of an individual script from $11,300 — or $188,000 for an entire year of treatment — to a maximum of $39.50 for approximately 850 people who are diagnosed with advanced lung cancer every year.

The immunopherapy drug will be available to patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer, the most common kind of cancer, and allow them to avoid chemopherapy. Keytruda is already listed on Australia’s PBS for classical Hodgkin’s lymphoma and advanced melanoma.

“Clinical trials of Keytruda for lung cancer have shown that some patients became virtually cancer-free after treatment,” Health Minister Greg Hunt said on Sunday.

Australia becomes the 40th country to fund Keytruda for advanced lung cancer. This immunopherapy assists a patient’s immune system to fight cancer cells.

While we are pleased for lung cancer patients and Australia, this news highlights how far behind New Zealand really is. The New Zealand Government needs to make lung cancer a national priority.

Alain Jorion, Lung Foundation NZ ambassador

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