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

From today, Australians have subsidised access to new drugs for ovarian and lung cancer – which would otherwise cost more than $100,000 per course of treatment – but are now available for just $6.30 for concessional patients and $38.80 for general patients.

Olaparib (Lynparza®) is used in the treatment of high grade serous ovarian, fallopian, and peritoneal cancers and works by programming the destruction of cancerous cells.

Olaparib would cost a patient more than $104,000 per course of treatment without subsidised access through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

“It is estimated that an average of 237 patients per year, over six years, will benefit from this listing. It can improve quality of life and significantly extend life expectancy,” Minister Hunt said.

February is also Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.

Ovarian Cancer has the lowest survival rate of any women’s cancer in Australia with just 43% of patients surviving five years after diagnosis and affects approximately 1500 women each year.

“There is no early detection for Ovarian Cancer so sadly, as a result, women are very often diagnosed at an advanced stage, when it’s very difficult to treat,” Minister Hunt said.

“This newly listed medicine, Olaparib, is a maintenance treatment for women with high-grade ovarian cancer and is the first molecularly targeted treatment for ovarian cancer to be made available on the PBS.”

The other cancer medicine being listed on the PBS today is Ceritinib – a medicine used in the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer.

This medicine has been shown to inhibit cell proliferation, leading to a regression of tumours.

The listing of Ceritinib is expected to benefit more than 120 Australians, who would otherwise face costs of more than $103,000 per course of treatment when used as a first-line therapy.

“The listing of these two medicines to the PBS, at a combined cost of approximately $176.7 million over five years to Government, continues the Turnbull Government’s commitment to making new medicines available in a timely manner to people when they are sick and in need of affordable access to medicines,” Minister Hunt said.

“We have a rock solid commitment to Medicare and part of this commitment is ensuring people have access to medicine when they need it.”

“Without subsidy these medicines would be unaffordable for most Australians. Now, they’re available for only $38.80 for general patients and $6.30 for concessional patients,” Minister Hunt said.

Riociguat (Adempas®) for the treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension, dasatinib (Sprycel®) for the treatment of chronic myeloid leukaemia, lenalidomide (Revlimid®) for patients with newly diagnosed multiple myeloma, and tiotropium bromide (Spiriva® Respimat®) for patients with severe uncontrolled asthma, are also on the PBS from today.

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