CHARLES CROUCHER: The Federal Government has announced it’ll invest more than $300 million in a bid to make life-saving cancer drugs more affordable.
We’re joined now by Health Minister Greg Hunt to explain. Minister, good morning and Happy New Year to you.
GREG HUNT: Good morning Charles, and to you.
CHARLES CROUCHER: Thank you. There are stories here of patients that are spending tens of thousands of dollars importing medicine that they were unable to access here in Australia. Will these changes help solve this and why has it taken so long?
GREG HUNT: Well, these drugs have just been approved, it’s something that I’ve helped to drive forward. And these are new drugs, Kyprolis for multiple myeloma – so, a disease that affects many, many Australians and would otherwise have cost $138,000.
That will now be on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, the PBS, and available for $6.40 or $39.50 a script.
So, dramatic, life-changing outcomes. And the same for Alectinib, with lung cancer, that would have been $188,000 and virtually no Australian family could afford that, so on our watch, in our time, we’re changing that.
CHARLES CROUCHER: How many Australians are likely to benefit from these changes?
GREG HUNT: There should be 550 for the myeloma drug and 250 for the lung cancer drug. And of course we’re always expanding out the number of new drugs and the number of new things that they can be used for as the medical evidence comes along.
So these are changing lives and we’ve listed over $7.5 billion of new drugs and that, over the course of the last four years, is one of the most important things we could possibly have done.
CHARLES CROUCHER: Agreed. Now, you’ve announced today that this will take place, but when will patients actually see the changes come into effect?
GREG HUNT: So, this will be available in two days. So, from the first of January patients with multiple myeloma and lung cancer, if the drug will help their conditions will be made available to them.
Virtually no Australian family, as I say, could afford a drug of $138,000 or $188,000. For that suddenly to be available at $6.40 a script for concession patients, which is most, that’s an incredible change in their lives.
And their health, their family, their lives will be different as a result of this. Our medical researchers, our doctors are amazing and it’s our job to make these drugs available to people who need them and simply couldn’t afford them.
CHARLES CROUCHER: Certainly will be a welcomed boost for their New Year. Minister, thanks for joining us this morning. Hope you have a great New Year with the family and we look forward to catching up with you in 2018.
GREG HUNT: Absolute pleasure and all the best for you guys.