Friday, 26 July 2013

27Jul13: Prostate cancer (PC) patients still can't have Abiraterone (Zytiga) on PBS before chemo fails

Did you see Channel 9 News on 26July - Abiraterone ( Zytiga ) to be funded by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme ( PBS ) from 01 August? Good news for some but bad for many others.


The news report featured a healthy looking man who stated that he now has prostate cancer in his bones. but is overjoyed that he now has an effective and kinder drug, available from 1st August and that it will cost pensioners only $5 instead of $3,500 per month. In the presentation of this “good news” it required close attention not to miss the brief comment that Zytiga would be available only for those who had already ceased to respond to treatment with Docetaxel (chemotherapy).


The fear is that most viewers will now believe (wrongly) that all advanced PC patients will have access to this drug. It is simply not so. Unlike in the USA, in Australia the large proportion who could benefit from Zytiga still cannot get it. They must suffer the side-effects of chemotherapy first. Chemotherapy has to fail, meaning that these sufferers will be facing their "end-game" before the government subsidy cuts in. Because this drug delays the appearance of secondary cancer in the bones and extends life pain-free, withholding the subsidy until they are on their last legs is unjust and unfair and not much more cost-saving than treatment with chemotherapy.


If you have not yet done so, please add your signature to the 5,500 already on my petition to the Minister for Health seeking to rectify this by approving a subsidy for Zytiga for the "pre-chemo" group as well - see:  

Friday, 5 July 2013

30Jun13: Minister for Health Tanya Plibersek approves Abiraterone subsidy but only for some (under PBS from August 2013)


Ms. Plibersek, (quote), “The PBS listing of abiraterone will benefit more than 1,000 Australians each year who would otherwise have to pay around $27,000 a year to access the drug. This medicine offers an important treatment option for patients who are not well enough to tolerate further chemotherapy.”


Minister, only terminal patients having failed chemotherapy will be eligible for a PBS subsidy for Abiraterone. The rest face the ordeal of chemo and qualify only when it fails. This is illogical because chemotherapy requires hospital resources and is costly itself. Abiraterone (tablets) can substantially delay metastases, cause them to regress and is well tolerated. It extends life, pain-free.


The FDA in USA recognizes this and approves its use in the pre-chemotherapy group. The TGA in Australia still needs to do so and the PBAC to recommend PBS subsidy. This would be humane and cost-effective.


My petition with 5,400 signatures seeks to achieve this and needs the signatures (urgently) of all supporters and of the contacts of those who have already signed. Please ask everyone to sign it at .