Around 4,500 people living with advanced lung cancer are set to benefit from the new PBS listing of a 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 move to reimburse the drug represents 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 at a cost to government of around $1.1 billion the listing was one of the largest ever listings on the PBS.
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.
Heather Allen, CEO of the Lung Foundation, said there were currently around 9,000 people diagnosed with lung cancer every year, and half of these would potentially benefit from the new listing.
“Over the last 25 years, we haven’t seen any significant move in the survival rate for lung cancer…today’s announcement really offers our patients some hope that that survival rate will change,” she said.
You can access the product information for Opvido here: http://www.medicines.org.au/files/bqpopdiv.pdf