Govt to list melanoma drug on PBS

Kalgoorlie Miner - - NEWS - Mel­bourne

A melanoma suf­ferer who thought he was on death’s door be­fore a re­mark­able new drug saved his life is over­joyed the Gov­ern­ment has lis­tened to him and agreed to sub­sidise the ex­pen­sive treat­ment.

The Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment yesterday an­nounced it would list the melanoma drug Keytruda on the Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal Ben­e­fits Scheme.

Pa­tients with a con­ces­sion card will now pay $6.10 while oth­ers will pay $37.70 for each Keytruda pre­scrip­tion, which pre­vi­ously cost $150,000 a year.

Since 2013, for­mer Mel­bourne lord mayor Ron Walker has worked tire­lessly to get the new drug ap­proved in Aus­tralia and in­cluded in the PBS. In 2012, Mr Walker was told his melanoma can­cer was spread­ing through­out his body.

The busi­ness­man held lit­tle hope he would sur­vive the dis­ease un­til he trav­elled to the United States and be­gan re­ceiv­ing Keytruda as part of a clin­i­cal trial.

“I was a walk­ing per­son who was go­ing to die and with this drug I came back to life again,” he said.

Pro­fes­sor Grant McArthur, of the Peter Mac­Cal­lum Can­cer Cen­tre, said Keytruda was a rev­o­lu­tion­ary treat­ment.

“Keytruda is the most re­mark­able drug I’ve dealt with in my ca­reer,” he told re­porters.

The chair­man of the cen­tre’s melanoma and skin ser­vice unit said the new im­mune-based drug un­locked the power of the body’s own im­mune sys­tem to at­tack and re­ject melanoma-based can- cers. The treat­ment is al­ready ben­e­fit­ing more than 40 per cent of melanoma pa­tients.

Al­most 1500 Aus­tralians die from ad­vanced melanoma a year.

Keytruda will be listed on the PBS from Septem­ber 1, but the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pany be­hind it is push­ing for the Gov­ern­ment to make it avail­able from Au­gust. AAP

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