New drugs update

You may have read our update on palbociclib (Ibrance) in The Beacon. Another drug that works in a similar way to palbociclib is currently being considered for sale in Australia.

Like palbociclib, ribociclib (Kisqali) belongs to a new class of drugs called CDK4/6 inhibitors.

It is an oral therapy (tablet) given in combination with an aromatase inhibitor to treat hormone receptor positive, HER2‐negative metastatic breast cancer. In the MONALEESA clinical trial, progression‐free survival (the time before the cancer progresses, or worsens) was significantly longer for women who received ribociclib plus letrozole than for those who received a placebo plus letrozole.

Ribociclib is currently being assessed by both the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), the authority that approves new drugs for sale in Australia, and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC), the authority that makes recommendations to the Australian Government for new drugs to be listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

BCNA has made a submission to the PBAC in support of ribociclib. You can find it on the Submissions page of our website,

The PBAC applications for both palbociclib and ribociclib are for their use as a first‐line treatment only. This means that, if approved and listed on the PBS, they would not be subsidised through the PBS for women who have already had treatment for metastatic breast cancer.

The PBAC has recommended against the listing of palbociclib on the PBS at this time. We expect the drug company to make another application to the PBAC. We will continue to monitor the situation and keep you updated through our website and in The Inside Story.

You might like to talk to your medical oncologist if you are interested in knowing more about these new drugs and whether they might be suitable for you.

Issue 79
Winter 2017