Drug that stops breast cancer’s spread now on PBS
Women whose breast cancer has spread will no longer have to pay a fortune for a drug which prolongs their life after its listing on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
Verzenio is a treatment for women with cancer that has metastasised which inhibits proteins that control how fast cells grow.
The proteins, called CDK4 and 6, become overactive in metastatic breast cancer, causing cells to grow and divide uncontrollably.
The drug will treat post-menopausal women with advanced hormone receptor positive human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 negative breast cancer.
Patients had been paying up to $55,500 a year for Verzenio, but the listing on the PBS reduces the drug to $41 per script, or, for concessional patients, $6.60 per script.
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Sydney oncologist Dr Fran Boyle said the drug could double the life expectancy for those with metastatic cancer.
"It is a tablet you add to your hormone blocking treatment to make it work better," Dr Boyle said.
"It is a super charger to the hormone blocking treatments we have been using.
"It improves the amount of time form women that the disease will be controlled and improve symptoms and will improve survival for women with metastatic breast cancer.
"On average it is about double the amount of time the disease is controlled, two years versus a year."
Verzenio joins Kisqali and Ibrance in the new class of drugs for metastatic hormonal cancer added to the PBS.
It is estimated more than 19,500 women and 160 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer in Australia in 2020. Australia now has a 91 per cent five-year survival rate but breast cancer still claims over 3000 lives a year.