PBS changes: new oral therapy for melanoma & restrictions on antibiotic repeat scripts

Thursday, 2 Apr 2020


PBS access has been widened to include an oral therapy for melanoma patients.

From 1 April the targeted oral combination therapy of encorafenib (Braftovi) plus binimetinib (Mektovi) is PBS subsidised to treat adult patients with unresectable Stage III or Stage IV malignant melanoma with a BRAF V600 mutation.

The combination therapy has been shown to prolong progression-free and overall survival compared to vemurafenib in adult patients with locally advanced, unresectable or metastatic melanoma with a BRAF V600E or BRAF V600K mutation.

Professor Grant McArthur, Executive Director, Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre, said the PBS listing of the new oral BRAF/MEK inhibitor therapy was welcome because it could delivered outside of hospital settings.

“With the current coronavirus pandemic in Australia threatening to overwhelm the healthcare system, access to oral therapies is especially useful,” said Professor McArthur.

“The use of effective oral therapies for cancer has been recognised as a particularly important option for patients by the Victorian COVID-19 Cancer Taskforce and cancer experts across the world.”

The PBS has also introduced restrictions on antibiotic repeat prescriptions.

From 1 April 2020, the maximum quantity and repeats for amoxicillin, amoxicillin with clavulanic acid, cefalexin, doxycycline and roxithromycin have been amended “to reflect a full course of antibiotic treatment to be dispensed in one prescription for specific indications.”

For the new Authority Required (STREAMLINED) antibiotic listings with repeats, prescribers are required to include a valid ‘streamlined authority code’ on the authority prescription. The ‘streamlined authority code’ is located on the relevant PBS listing on the PBS website.

Short courses of antibiotics will continue to be available with nil repeats.

“These changes are intended  to encourage clinicians to prescribe antibiotic repeats only when clinically indicated, thus reducing inappropriate prescribing and increasing quality use of antibiotic medicines,” a PBS statement said.

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