Palbociclib approved for sale in Australia

Many thanks to those of you who have signed BCNA’s online petition to have the new breast cancer drug palbociclib (Ibrance) made available in Australia and listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). As at the end of June, more than 33,000 people had signed our petition! Thanks to you all.

Palbociclib is a new type of drug used to treat hormone receptor positive, HER2-negative metastatic (secondary) breast cancer. An international clinical trial found that giving palbociclib in combination with the hormone therapy drug letrozole doubles the length of time before the cancer spreads, from 10.2 months for women who took letrozole only to 20.2 months for women who took both drugs.

BCNA has been working with stakeholders to have palbociclib made available to women in Australia. In early May, we were very pleased to learn that the Therapeutic Goods Administration had approved palbociclib for sale in Australia.

Palbociclib became available to buy in Australia on 17 May. The cost per month is $4,700 plus a pharmacy dispensing fee, as it has not yet been listed on the PBS.

Getting palbociclib listed on the PBS is the next step so that all Australians who may benefit from it can access it on an affordable basis, not just those who can afford it. Unfortunately, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) has recommended against listing it on the PBS. Our experience with other drugs such as Herceptin, Kadcyla and Perjeta is that eventually, with public support, new drugs are listed. Therefore, it is important to keep promoting the petition to friends, family and the wider community.

BCNA has also called on the drug company that manufactures palbociclib, Pfizer, to open a patient access program in Australia. Patient access programs allow people who might benefit from new drugs not listed on the PBS to obtain them at a greatly reduced price or, in some cases, free of charge.
We will keep you updated on any developments through The Beacon and our website.

An application has also been made to have a drug similar to palbociclib made available in Australia and listed on the PBS. Ribociclib (Kisqali) is also used to treat hormone receptor positive, HER2-negative metastatic breast cancer. Given with a hormone therapy drug such as letrozole, it has been shown to increase the length of time before the cancer spreads to 25.3 months.

BCNA is supporting the listing of this drug on the PBS also. You can read our submission on the Submissions page of our website, bcna.org.au/submissions.

Issue 79
Winter 2017