Cheaper drugs announced for cancer and kidney disease patients

Source: Lukas Coch/AAP PHOTOS)

Australians with endometrial cancer or chronic kidney disease might soon be able to benefit from cheaper government subsidised drugs.

Starting May 1 2024, two new medications will be added to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, drastically cutting costs:

  • Dostarlimab, used in conjunction with chemotherapy to treat endometrial cancer
  • Difelikefalin, which alleviates itching in patients undergoing haemodialysis (for advanced chronic kidney disease)


Notably, Dostarlimab, primarily prescribed for endometrial cancer, has also shown promising results in potentially improving outcomes for colorectal cancer (commonly known as bowel cancer).

Health Minister Mark Butler says this will aid about 3000 patients across the country.

“Endometrial cancer is Australia’s most common female reproductive cancer – more than 3,200 women are diagnosed every year.” he said.

Without the subsidy, the 200 women who use the cancer treatment could otherwise pay more than $139,000 for each course of treatment.

“The listing … will give Australian women battling endometrial cancer another tool to fight their horrible disease,” Mr Butler said.

Read more: What Reform To The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme Means For You

Australians undergoing haemodialysis for advanced chronic kidney disease often deal with pruritus, which is moderate-to-severe itching. This can detrimentally affect their sleep, mood, and overall quality of life, and is linked to higher risks of infections and increased mortality.

Without the listing of Difelikefalin, these patients could spend $7200 a year.

From May, they will pay a maximum of $31.60 per script or $7.70 with a concession card.

Dostarlimab has also shown promising early signs of helping those with bowel cancer.

A 2022 study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, revealed that after 12 patients completed treatment with Dostarlimb, all went into remission.

– With AAP

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