For the first time, women will have subsidised access from today to a preventive medicine that could reduce their risk of getting breast cancer by 30-40 per cent over their lifetime.
The medicine, tamoxifen (Nolvadex-D), is the first preventive, risk reduction treatment for breast cancer listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). It will have extended availability on the PBS to reduce risk in people at moderate to high risk of developing breast cancer.
The Minister for Health, Sussan Ley, said: “This is a significant listing for patients at risk of developing breast cancer.
“It demonstrates the Government’s commitment to preventing illness by funding new and innovative medicines as a priority.”
Ms Ley was speaking at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne at the start of Breast Cancer Awareness month.
It is estimated that more than 16,000 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in 2016.
More than 9,000 additional patients, who are considered to be at moderate to high risk of developing breast cancer, are estimated to have subsidised access to this medicine. This listing will save concessional patients more than $200 a year.
Tamoxifen is already listed on the PBS for the treatment of hormone receptor positive breast cancer and will now be extended as a risk-reduction treatment for women with moderate to high risk of developing breast cancer. Tamoxifen needs to be part of a holistic approach to managing women at moderate to high risk of developing breast cancer, combined with regular breast screening.
This is the first preventive, risk reduction treatment for breast cancer listed on the PBS and the culmination of a process that commenced in late 2013 with a stakeholder meeting involving representatives of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC), the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), clinical experts and patient advocates.
The commitment of AstraZeneca to engage with the TGA and the PBAC to seek an expanded listing for tamoxifen means the use of this medicine on the PBS will be aligned with best current clinical practice.
Ms Ley also announced that darunavir + cobicistat (Prezcobix®) would be added to the PBS from 1 October 2016 for the treatment of HIV infection.
“Without Government subsidy, patients would face costs of more than $8,000 per year of treatment,” she said.
From 1 October, Australians with type 2 diabetes mellitus will have additional treatment options when the PBS listings for multiple medicines are amended. These include: linagliptin (Trajenta®) and linagliptin with metformin (Trajentamet®) as well as sitagliptin (Januvia®), sitagliptin with metformin (Janumet®) and sitagliptin with metformin XR (Janumet XR®), for use in combination with insulin.
Patients with severe chronic plaque psoriasis will also be better off with changes to the listing of secukinumab (Cosentyx®) from 1 October.
With the amendment of the listing for secukinumab (Cosentyx®), patients will now need fewer scripts for initial treatment, meaning they will pay fewer co-payments.
In addition, patients with ankylosing spondylitis and psoriatic arthritis will now have access to secukinumab. Without the PBS subsidy, these patients would face costs of more than $10,000 and $19,000 respectively for one year of treatment.
All PBS listings are published on the Schedule of Pharmaceutical Benefits, which is available through the PBS website at www.pbs.gov.au