Dialog Box


Industry preps for August PBAC meeting

5 Jun 2018 at 12:00 AM

Expectations are growing for a lively special August meeting of the PBAC with "at least 40 to 50 industry parties" expected to contribute to discussions according to Department of Health officials.

The meeting, called by Health Minister Greg Hunt close to 12 months ago, is to consider options for listing PD-1 and PD-L1 checkpoint inhibitors for the treatment of multiple cancer indications on the PBS.

"The PBAC Secretariat has received around 50 expressions of interest various parties, including pharmaceutical companies. The number of submissions we receive will depend on whether all parties who have expressed an interest make a submission and how many other stakeholders who have not expressed an interest, so far, decide to make a submission," a departmental spokesperson said.

Medicines Australia has confirmed it will submit with, Pharma in Focus understands, the body's Oncology Industry Taskforce set to work up the submission and seeking member input.

Individual companies with a significant stake in the space are understood to be deciding whether they will submit on their own behalf with a number likely to add to the pile of PBAC reading.

The reimbursement committee has named a number of drugs in a background paper for submissions including, Bristol-Myers Squibb's Opdivo, MSD's Keytruda, Roche's Tecentriq, Merck Group's Bavencio and AstraZeneca's Imfinzi.

An MSD spokesperson said the company is currently working on a proposal to submit to the meeting.

"We are keen to put forward our view on new ways for Australian cancer patients to access immunotherapy oncology treatments for a variety of tumour types via the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. Overall, if a pan-tumour arrangement is implemented in Australia, it could help to meet cancer patients' need for access to these treatments," the spokesperson said.

New cancer lobby group National Oncology Alliance (NOA), which grew out of the Cancer Drugs Alliance, will also be submitting.

Richard Vines, chairman of Rare Cancers Australia, and a leader of the new group told Pharma in Focus the submission would be calling for any resulting special reimbursement process to go wider than PD drugs to include all those with pan-tumour potential.

"It's what Hunt asked for at our forum last year. He didn't specify PDs," Vines said, noting that a number of such drugs had been submitted to the July PBAC.

He said the best outcome would be a model for reimbursing pan-tumour drugs for the widest possible set of indications while maintaining the PBAC's commitment to cost-effectiveness.

The PBAC has said it will "take account of the tensions existing between the demands for adapting the reimbursement pathways for multiple tumour medicines, while balancing the uncertainties in the clinical and/or economic evidence base".

It will also consider patient and community interests "including timely access to new medicines, unmet clinical need and the principles of equitable access and affordability for improved health outcomes across all disease groups.”

The meeting will inform advice to Minister Hunt that is likely to include more than one option.

Some in industry are wondering, however, if the minister will be motivated to act quickly, given the political pressure he has been under lately and continuing election speculation.

NOA's Vines said his cancer community would regard such an outcome as "a sad, wasted opportunity".

Submissions close on June 29 and will be published on the PBS website after that date. "Any submissions that contain commercially sensitive information may not be published, or may be published with redactions," the department said. The meeting is scheduled for August 17.

The original version of this article appeared here. 

Category: Rare Cancers in the News
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