Blood cancer drugs added to PBS
The Federal Government is spending $48 million to provide more affordable drugs for Australians with blood cancer.
Blood cancer, which includes lymphoma and myeloma, claims more lives each year than breast or skin cancer.
"Blood cancers can be catastrophic and these medicines are about hope," Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said.
Gazyva (obinutuzumab) will be placed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme in October and it's expected to benefit around 700 patients with advanced follicular lymphoma.
The drug which usually costs about $104,000 a year, will now cost patients $39.50 per script or just $6.40 for concession card holders.
Sarah Howitt, 47, and Norene Clouten, 77, are pleased the drug will be made more affordable.
"I was fortunate to be on the trial but there are many others who need the treatment," Norene Clouten said.
Both women took part in the trial of the drug which is given by infusion and targets a protein on the surface of white blood cells to stop the cancer.
"So far, so good. I've had clear CT scans and PET scans," Sarah Howitt said.
Prince of Wales haematologist Professor Mark Hertzberg said the drug will help fight the sixth most common cancer in Australia.
"For a large group of lymphoma patients, the availability of Gazyva fulfils an unmet need and enables us to improve the outcome of patients," he said.
The global trial showed that the treatment substantially improved remission rates.
"Hopefully the remission rates will translate even into cure rates," Professor Hertzberg said.
Another drug called Pomalyst (pomalidomide) was given an extended listing for patients with multiple myeloma.
That means more patients are eligible for the subsidised oral drug which usually costs $58,500 for each treatment.
Ian Young, 62, could potentially benefit from the treatment if his condition worsens.
"The opportunity to extend my life, you can't get better than that," he said.
Mr Young was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in February after he felt paralysing pain in the middle of his back while on an overseas trip with his wife.
His three month holiday was cut short on the second day.
"Nobody expects to be in that situation," he said.
"I didn't, but I am and I'm thankful that we have people who can see the future."