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
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
"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
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
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.