Topics: $100 million investment in new PBS listings to fight cancer
Thanks very much to Professor Ricky Johnstone, to the amazing clinicians here at Peter Mac and the VCCC.
To our patients – patients such as Ben and Christine and Denise and all the other patients who have inspiring stories; that their lives faced the most immense of challenges and yet through their determination, the support of the patient groups such as Ovarian Cancer Australia, the Leukaemia Foundation, the amazing Unicorn Foundation, and all of the different groups.
And then the incredible new pharmaceuticals which are coming through whether they are in particular immunotherapies or new breakthrough drugs, or combination immunotherapies.
And then of course above all else, our incredible clinicians – clinicians such as Professor David Ritchie, of Dr Sandhu and so many others who save lives and protect lives and inspire us.
We were able to visit some of our researchers upstairs who were looking for new genetic pathways in order to identify the source and therefore the response to dealing with cancers such as those that we’re looking at today.
Today, I am delighted to be able to announce that the Australian Government will list five new medicines on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme to help save and protect the lives of patients struggling with different cancers.
Over 2900 patients with five different types of cancers will benefit from these new listings on the PBS. Cancers such as acute myeloid leukaemia, advanced melanoma – stage 3 and stage 4 melanoma; bowel cancer; neuroendocrine tumours for the intestines and the pancreas; and also the insidious ovarian cancer will all benefit from these new medicines.
In particular, we’ll be announcing and listing on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme as of tomorrow Rydapt for acute myeloid leukaemia – this will help 200 patients and would otherwise have cost up to $30,000 a year.
Somatuline Autogel which is for neuroendocrine tumours of the gastroentero and pancreatic condition. So in other words intestinal and pancreatic cancers will have a new treatment and this will help 760 patients and would otherwise have cost $23,000 a year.
The combination immunotherapy breakthrough that help Jarryd Roughead OPDIVO and Yervoy – this would otherwise have cost $100,000 a year for patients.
And for melanoma this will help approximately 800 Australian patients a year. Lonsurf for bowel cancer – over 885 patients will benefit and this would have cost $6000. And then LYNPARZA for ovarian cancer and more than 220 patients will benefit and it would have cost $90,000.
These are the things you can only do if you have a strong economy. It’s absolutely fundamental to be able to have that basis to list these medicines but even more importantly, it’s a privilege to be able to deliver what the medical experts have recommended and if they recommend it, we will list it.
But to meet our researchers, to meet our extraordinary pharmaceutical leaders, to meet the medical communities that are supporting and then above all else to meet the patients who are benefiting is to see the very best of medicine and the very best of Australia here in the very best of treatment houses anywhere in the world.
Thank you very much. And I might invite Dr Sandhu.
Thank you Minister Hunt for making this announcement (inaudible) at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.
I’d also like to thank everybody for coming today and marking this very important milestone for patients. Melanoma in Australia is a very deadly disease. Australia has the highest incidence of melanoma in the world.
And whilst most of primary melanomas can be cured when they are detected early, in the context of advanced disease this disease continues to account for approximately 2000 deaths per year.
Yervoy – the announcement today is a great advance. Today we are marking a further step in achieving durable disease control for patients with melanoma and this is tremendous.
Yervoy and OPDIVO are a new class of drugs that are called immunotherapy and what they do is enhance the patient’s own immune system to fight cancer.
Both Yervoy and OPDIVO have previously been approved as single agents and both these agents improved survival for patients with melanoma.
But when they are combined, they result in increased activity and are associated with significant improvements in long term survival for our patients. So it is with tremendous pleasure that I am part of this announcement today.
I might invite Professor David Ritchie. I will just say off Dr Sandhu’s work, these new immunotherapies are just at the start of the treatment regime that is transforming the way that cancer is being treated in Australia and whilst they make enormous breakthroughs now, the future that will come in this space will be immense.
And then beyond that, CAR T therapy is something that we want to bring to Australia and I hope that Peter MacCallum will help lead the world in what will potentially be a new curative therapy.
So not just a treatment, but a cure.
And so I have to say Peter Mac is when I say – one of the world’s leading institutions and in my view the world’s leading institution, it’s absolutely the case. Professor Ritchie.
Thank you Minister and good morning everybody.
I’m a haematologist – I treat patients with acute leukaemia, specifically acute myeloid leukaemia and one of the drugs announced today – Midostaurin, will make an immediate and meaningful impact on the lives of patients with that deadly disease and importantly, return those patients to the arms of their families.
We’re extremely fortunate to live in a society that recognises the value and supports clinical and basic research and that research has directly led to the discovery of these medications which will have such a meaningful clinical impact.
We’re also incredibly fortunate to live in a society that values data, values clinical trial outcome; recognises the impact it can have on patients and make those drugs available for those patients.
Approximately a thousand men and women across Australia will be diagnosed with AML every year.
One third of those patients will have a particular type of genetic lesion which will benefit from Midostaurin application as part of the chemotherapy regimen – result in higher rates of remission and higher rates of cure.
And ultimately, return those patients back to where they belong – that is society, into the arms of their families which is what we all stand for.
So on behalf of all of the clinical haematologists across Peter Mac and Royal Melbourne Hospital who look after patients with AML, this is a significant day and we look forward to future announcements, including those related to CAR T-cells for other treatments of leukaemia.
I’d like to thank the Minister, I’d like to thank the PBS and I’d particularly like to thank the taxpayers in Australia for making these breakthroughs possible. So thank you for your time.
Kate from Unicorn Foundation which represents patients with neuroendocrine tumours.
Being told that you have cancer is a devastating experience and we’ve all been touched by cancer in some way.
Being told you have a rare cancer brings unique challenges and it’s incredibly isolating and for our patients, a lot of them when they’re told they have cancer they’ve been told in the past that there’s actually no treatment we can give you and you need to go home and wait for your tumours to grow which is just unthinkable.
And we’re so pleased that now there is an option for our patients.
We’re standing here in Peter MacCallum. It’s the first in its Centre of Excellence for neuroendocrine tumours outside of Europe and we’re very proud to be in this space and to be celebrating this news of this funding.
November is the month of World NET Cancer Day so people affected with neuroendocrine tumours internationally, are thinking of this situation and will be watching with eagerness this announcement.
And we’re so proud that Australia is spearheading the development of these treatments internationally.
We’re happy to take any questions in relation to this and over to you.
Minister, if we can just get it in a nutshell for TV. Can you explain on a whole, all these drugs, what that will mean to Australia?
These new medicines represent a $100 million investment that will help 3000 patients, save lives and protect lives and give them and their families real hope for the future.