Date published: 
1 December 2017
Media type: 
Media release
General public

A new medicine to treat soft tissue sarcoma will be available through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) from today, giving more than 100 Australians a year access to affordable life-improving treatment.

Eribulin (Halaven®) provides eligible patients with an alternative treatment to currently listed medicines. It works by inhibiting the growth of cancer cells.

The independent expert Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) recommended listing Eribulin, recognising that there is a high unmet clinical need for treatment options in liposarcoma patients and that for some patients this medicine is more effective than other comparable treatments.

Soft tissue sarcoma is a rare type of cancer that develops from certain tissues, like fat, muscles, and nerves.

Patients would pay around $15,800 per year without subsidised access.

Now, patients will pay only a maximum of $38.80 per script or just $6.30 for concessional patients.

Also from today, the Government’s policy to make PBS listing changes to encourage use of biosimilar medicines is being implemented for the first time for the Brenzys® brand of the biological medicine etanercept.

Etanercept is a biological disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug listed for the treatment of certain severe forms of inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.

Biosimilars are copies of the first or ‘reference’ brand of a biological medicine, providing market competition between brands.

The process for prescribing the biosimilar brand Brenzys® for patients who have stabilised on etanercept will be faster and simpler than prescribing the Enbrel® reference brand.

Increased use of biosimilar brands is expected to create more competition on price, lowering the cost of providing subsidised access to expensive biological medicines, freeing up funds to provide access to new treatments.

Since coming into Government, the Coalition has added around $7.5 billion worth of medicines to the PBS. This includes the recently announced listing of ibrutinib (Imbruvica®) for leukaemia and lymphoma patients.

The Turnbull Government’s careful management of PBS spending means that we are able to list new, effective medicines on the PBS when they become available.

Our commitment to the PBS is rock solid. Together with Medicare, it is a foundation of our world-class health care system. We are determined to ensure it remains sustainable into the future.

PBS listings are published on the Schedule of Pharmaceutical Benefits, which is available through the PBS website.