Accessing CDK inhibitors

As outlined in the article in the current issue of The Beacon, the new class of drugs called CDK inhibitors (palbociclib, ribociclib, abemaciclib) is delivering great results for some women with hormone receptor positive, HER2-negative metastatic breast cancer.

BCNA has received a number of enquiries from women who have discussed these drugs with their specialists. Often they ask us how they can access these new drugs in Australia.

None of them are available through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) at this time.

Palbociclib is available to buy in Australia, but at a cost of around Accessing CDK inhibitors $4,800 per month it is out of the reach of most women. At the time of writing, ribociclib is not approved for sale but an application has been made to the Australian drug regulator.

Following is a run-down of ways you may be able to access these drugs now. This issue is moving quickly, so please also check our website for the latest information.

Palbociclib (Ibrance)

Currently, there is no general compassionate access scheme for palbociclib. This means anyone wanting to start using it is required to buy it. Pharmacies can charge a script dispensing fee, which can be several hundred dollars extra. If you are buying palbociclib from a pharmacy, you may like to phone around and compare prices.

If you were buying palbociclib from overseas at the time it received approval for sale in Australia (May 2017), you may be eligible for compassionate (free) access from the drug company Pfizer. Following negotiations between BCNA and Pfizer, Pfizer has agreed to provide palbociclib free of charge to anyone who was purchasing it at the time it was approved for sale here. If this is your situation, contact your medical oncologist and ask him/her to contact Pfizer on your behalf. BCNA cannot help with this process.

Ribociclib (Kisqali)

Pharmaceutical company Novartis has opened a compassionate access scheme for its CDK inhibitor, ribociclib. The scheme is only open to women newly diagnosed with hormone receptor positive, HER2-negative metastatic breast cancer. ‘Newly diagnosed’ means you have either not received any treatment for metastatic breast cancer or you may have received up to 28 days of treatment with letrozole or anastrozole. There are also a number of other restrictions so it is important to talk with your medical oncologist if you are newly diagnosed and think this may be a drug that could help you.

Abemaciclib

This drug is only available in Australia on a clinical trial.

Issue 80
Spring 2017