New cancer drugs that could potentially extend the lives of sufferers across Australia have been listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
And while one of the drugs previously cost more than $100,000 – it will now be available for people to purchase for as little as $6.40.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Health Minister Greg Hunt announced the listing of cancer medicines alectinib (brand name Alecensa) and carfilzomib (also named Kyprolis).
He reportedly said: “In other words, drugs which are life-changing were impossible to be paid for by most people, now they’ll be in the reach of everybody who needs them.”
Carfilzomib helps fight relapsed refractory multiple myeloma, a plasma cell cancer which can prevent healthy cells working the way they should and lead to weaker bones or bone tumours.
Around 550 patients are expected to immediately benefit each year from the subsidised drug.
From January 1, patients will only pay $39.50 per script, with concessional patients paying just $6.40 – when it used to cost up to $138,800.
“Ultimately, this is medical science being translated to the reach of every Australian who needs it, and what we’re doing is we’re investing $300 million,” Mr Hunt added.
“We’re bringing these drugs into the reach of those who have a desperate need and without this help they simply wouldn’t be able to afford it.”
According to the Herald Sun, of the average 1700 Australians diagnosed with myeloma each year, almost all are older than 40, while it’s most common in those aged over 60.
“Everyone lives in hope for a cure, but this treatment is what’s keeping that hope alive for many people by extending their lives,” Myeloma Australia chief executive Steve Roach told the site.
Meanwhile Alectinib helps fight a form of lung cancer by targeting and blocking receptors found on the cancer cells, which could cause cells to grow and divide too fast – therefore preventing the possible growth of tumours.
It specifically targets anaplastic lymphoma kinase-positive non-small cell lung cancer, and the listing could help around 250 sufferers across Australia.