In brief: ASCO 2021; Generic prescribing; Oncology PBS listing

Generic prescribing now the rule

New PBS rules requires medicines to be prescribed by active ingredient name rather than by brand name, except for a few exemptions. From 1 February, the Active Ingredient Prescribing policy requires the inclusion of active ingredients on all PBS and RPBS prescriptions, except for handwritten prescriptions; paper based medication charts in the residential aged care sector; products containing four or more active ingredients; and certain items where brand names should be specified for safety or practicality reasons – such as EpiPens. The exempt items are listed on the List of Medicines for Brand Consideration. The Department of Health says prescribers can still prescribe medicines by brand if clinically necessary, and the brand name will appear after the active ingredient. A prescriber may also still choose to disallow brand substitution. The changes will be incorporated into prescribing software but this cannot be set to automatically include brand names for every prescription.

ASCO face-to-face meeting cancelled for 2021

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) has announced that its 2021 ASCO Annual Meeting will be an online-only experience because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The meeting, which in the past has attracted thousands of oncologists and haematologists to its US venues will run in a virtual format from June 4-8, 2021. “We had hoped for a return to an in-person meeting as we all miss the opportunity to see and engage with our colleagues. While that will not be possible, due to continuing COVID-19 concerns, ASCO remains committed to delivering the latest groundbreaking science in oncology and timely information on clinical application and treatment,” it said.

Immunotherapy PBS listing for first line SCLC

Durvalumab (Imfinzi) has been recommended for PBS listing as first line treatment for small cell lung cancer (SCLC). The Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee recommended the listing in combination with etoposide and platinum-based chemotherapy for the first-line treatment of extensive stage SCLC. The recommendation was made at the November 2020 meeting, on the basis that that the cost effectiveness of durvalumab would be acceptable if it were cost minimised against atezolizumab,

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