Date published: 
1 April 2019
Media type: 
Media release
Audience: 
General public



1 April 2019



The Liberal National Government is improving the lives of patients with breast cancer and a rare skin cancer by subsidising innovative medicines on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), saving patients up to $150,000 a year.



In this year’s Budget our Government will invest $81.5 million to list the medicine Bavencio® (avelumab) on the PBS for the first time for the treatment of metastatic merkel cell carcinoma, a rare and highly aggressive type of skin cancer.



The incidence of Merkel cell carcinoma is rising in Australia and has become the second most common cause of skin-cancer death after melanoma.



Those with a high level of sun exposure who are over the age of 75 are most at risk.



This is a new immunotherapy medicine designed to help the body’s immune system attack and destroy cancer cells.



It has the potential to save and prolong the lives of around 160 patients a year who expected to benefit from this listing.



Without PBS subsidy patients would pay approximately $150,000 per year for this treatment.



From May 1 this year it will be reduced to the PBS price of $40.30 per script, or $6.50 with a concession card.



Australian patients with breast cancer will benefit from an Australian Government decision to list Ibrance® (palbociclib) for the first time, on the PBS.



Ibrance® will be listed on the PBS for the treatment of hormone receptor positive locally advanced inoperable or metastatic breast cancer.



Hormone receptor positive tumours are the most common form of breast cancer and account for most deaths from the disease.



By inhibiting two proteins which drive the growth of tumour cells, Ibrance® — used in combination with other medicines — will slow the progression of breast cancers in some patients.



Without PBS subsidy, patients would pay more than $55,000 a year for this treatment.



Around 3,000 patients a year are expected to benefit from this listing.



These patients will now be able to access this medicine for just $40.30 per script, or $6.50 with a concession card from May 1, 2019.



These treatments improve lives. They reduce the burden of expensive medicines, saving patients and families money.



Every medicine was recommended to be added to the PBS by the independent expert Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee. By law the Federal Government cannot list a new medicine without a positive recommendation from the PBAC

Unlike Labor, we are subsidising all drugs recommended by the independent medical experts.



Since 2013, our Government more than 2,000 new or amended items on the PBS.



This represents an average of around 30 listings per month—or one each day— at an overall cost of around $10.6 billion.



Our commitment to the PBS is rock solid. Together with Medicare, it is a foundation of our world-class health care system.



Our plan for a strong economy continues to deliver record funding for essential health services that saves lives.



(ENDS)