The checkpoint immunotherapy nivolumab (Opvido) has been listed on the PBS for locally advanced or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer and advanced (stage IV) clear cell variant renal cell carcinoma.
The listings represent the first time patients with these cancers will have PBS reimbursed access to immuno-oncology therapy.
Making the announcement at Sydney’s Royal North Shore Hospital Health Minister Greg Hunt said 4,500 Australians would now have subsidised access to the drug.
At a cost to government of around $1.1 billion it is one of the largest ever listings on the PBS, he said.
Without subsidy, the medicine would cost patients more than $130,000 per year.
Speaking at the announcement oncologist Professor Nick Pavlakis said: “As a researcher, it’s a privilege to be able to partake in clinical trials that have evaluated the success of these therapies.
And it’s great to be able to see those successes now coming into the clinic, where as a medical oncologist, I now have the opportunity to offer them in real time to my patients.
“We offer them hope, in situations where otherwise they see no hope ahead. And one of the advantages of this particular type of therapy, is it’s so much better tolerated than chemotherapy.
And so the quality of life for patients, not only is it lengthened, but the quality of life is substantially improved.
So it’s great to be able to see the research come to fruition, and then also be able to, at the other end, access it in the clinic in real time to offer it to patients.”
You can access the product information for Opvido here: http://www.medicines.org.au/files/bqpopdiv.pdf