Date published: 
23 June 2021
Media type: 
Media release
General public

From July 1, thousands of Australians and their families suffering from rare cancers and genetic disorders are set to benefit from expanded listings on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

We are expanding the listing for Opdivo® and Yervoy® (nivolumab and ipilimumab), for the treatment of patients with unresectable malignant mesothelioma.

Unresectable malignant mesothelioma is an insidious cancer that cannot be treated surgically and can take decades to emerge after initial exposure to asbestos. Symptoms are often mistaken for less serious illnesses, which can complicate early diagnosis.

When used in combination, Opdivo® and Yervoy® helps the immune system to attack and destroy the cancer cells.

More than 700 patients a year will benefit from this listing. Without PBS subsidy, patients might pay more than $130,000 per course of treatment for this medicine.

Our Government is also expanding the listing of Kuvan® (sapropterin) on the PBS to include treatment of maternal phenylketonuria (MPKU).

MPKU is a condition when a woman who has phenylketonuria is pregnant. During pregnancy, the levels of phenylalanine affect both the mother and the developing foetus.

MPKU is a genetic disorder requiring lifelong management that prevents the normal breakdown of a protein found in some foods.

This medicine works in combination with dietary restrictions, to help lower the amount of amino acid phenylalanine in the blood.

Kuvan® reduces phenylalanine in the blood of people with phenylketonuria. Elevated levels can cause abnormal mental and physical development.

Around 30 patients each year will benefit from access to this treatment option. Without PBS subsidy, patients might pay over $215,000 per course of treatment.

Without proper treatment this condition can lead to problems with brain development and cause intellectual disability, difficulties with attention, and psychiatric disorders like anxiety or depression.

These treatments will now be available for as little as $41.30 per script, or just $6.60 for patients with a concession card.

Each of these listings has been recommended by the independent Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee.

Since 2013, our Government has approved more than 2,600 new or amended listings on the PBS.

This represents an average of around 30 listings or amendments per month – or one each day – at an overall investment by the Government of $13.2 billion.

The Morrison Government’s commitment to ensuring Australians can access affordable medicines, when they need them, remains rock solid.’

Former ministers: