The Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) last week announced two positive recommendations for therapies that will benefit biliary and oesophageal cancer patients. The therapies brought to PBAC have been submitted by two different companies, who made recommendations to have the medications listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), enabling patients to have greater access to more affordable treatments.
Biliary and oesophageal cancers have some of the lowest five-year survival rates – 19.8% and 23% respectively. This is in part due to late-stage diagnosis and few effective therapies available.
Pancare Foundation is pleased to have supported both applications, advocating on behalf of our patient community during the consultation phase. Supporting new therapies is a key priority in our advocacy efforts to ensure timely and equitable access to effective and affordable medicines.
Therapies recommended for biliary cancer
Durvalumab (Imfinzi®) for biliary cancer has been given has been given the green light to be listed on the PBS for the treatment of locally advanced or metastatic biliary tract cancer in combination with chemotherapy (gemcitabine and cisplatin). Durvalumab (Imfinzi®) is the first and only registered immunotherapy in unresectable or metastatic biliary cancer and is the first new medication in over a decade for the first-line treatment of patients in the advanced stages of this disease.
Therapies recommended for oesophageal cancer
The PBAC recommended that the current PBS listing for nivolumab (Opdivo®) for advanced or metastatic gastro-oesophageal cancers be amended to include all patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the oesophagus.
Specialist Upper GI Cancer Nurse, Shannon Gleeson, of Pancare’s PanSupport program welcomed the announcement. “The recent recommendation by PBAC is wonderful news for patients and welcomed by Pancare. Once these therapies are listed on the PBS, it will significantly reduce the costs of a course of treatment – from what is often tens of thousands of dollars – which will allow more patients living with biliary and oesophageal cancers access therapies that could give them more time and quality of life.”
Before the therapies are available via the PBS, the recommendations will be made to Government for the Minister for Health and Aged Care to sign off. This process can take some time. Pancare will continue to stay informed of the status and advise when the therapies are listed.
If you need more information
To discuss your treatment options and eligibility, please speak with your treating medical team. If you need additional support, please contact our PanSupport Helpline on 1300 881 698 to speak with a Specialist Upper GI Cancer Nurse.
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