Date published: 
15 September 2018
Media type: 
Media release
General public

The Morrison Government will invest $48 million to list new treatments for lymphoma and multiple myeloma on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), benefiting hundreds of patients and saving families up to $100,000 a year.

From October 1 around 700 patients with untreated advanced follicular lymphoma – a type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma – will no longer need to pay $104,000 to use the medication Gazyva®.

The listing of this medication on the PBS means patients will instead pay a maximum of $39.50 per script or just $6.40 per script for concessional patients, including pensioners.

Gazyva® helps a patient’s own immune system destroy cancer cells, and is also successfully to treat patients with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia.

Gazyva® will also be subsidised for lymphoma patients who do not respond to treatment with another medication – rituximab.

September is lymphoma awareness month and includes World Lymphoma Awareness Day on 15 September.

Lymphoma develops when the body makes abnormal B-cells – a type of white blood cell that usually fights infection. These abnormal cells build up in the lymph nodes. Symptoms include painless swelling in the neck, armpit or groin.

Lymphoma is the most common blood cancer and has over 60 difference subtypes. For most sufferers of follicular lymphoma, Gazyva will slow the progression of the disease.

We are also listing Pomalyst® for relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma patients, who can’t take or have a severe intolerance to other medications used to treat the condition.

Myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cells and it is estimated about 30 patients could benefit from this new treatment.

Patients would normally pay around $58,500 a year for this medicine but from October 1 will only pay a maximum of $39.50 per script or just $6.40 per script for concessional patients.

The independent Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) recommended these new listings.

The Committee is independent of Government by law and in practice. By law the Federal Government cannot list a new medicine without a positive recommendation from PBAC.

Since coming into Government, the Coalition has helped improve the health of Australians by subsidising more than $9 billion worth of new medicines.

Unlike Labor, we are subsidising all drugs recommended by the independent medical experts.

In the Budget we announced our commitment to invest $2.4 billion on new medicines to build on our commitment to guarantee those essential services that all Australians rely on.

Our commitment to the PBS is rock solid. Together with Medicare, it is a foundation of our world-class health care system.