Govt to list melanoma drug on PBS
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