The National Oncology Alliance will
champion a health system that keeps up with science to provide all cancer
patients with the treatment, support and care they deserve, and can afford.
to treatment shouldn’t be determined by bank balances: A new survey of
Australian Oncologists has found major problem with access to cancer medicines;
that over 6,000 Australian’s are unable to afford the treatments recommended by
forked out in out of pocket costs: At least 3,500 patients are self-funding
non-PBS listed cancer medicines at an average of $60,000 annually, totalling
over $200 million per year.1
reform must put patient outcomes in the hands of clinicians: The system must
adapt to advances in research to ensure patients have timely access to the best
have a responsibility to get this right: There are more life changing
possibilities at the fingertips of patients than ever before. Policies must
give patients the best shot to extend and improve their lives.
SYDNEY, 14 AUGUST 2018: The National
Oncology Alliance (NOA) - a first-of-its kind collaboration - is calling for
new PBAC processes to be adopted that ensure our health system keeps up with
rapid advances in science. NOA is calling for these changes ahead of the
Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) meeting on August 17, in
response to the growing need for Australians to access innovative treatments
for all cancers.
NOA is a collective of more than 100
members, including patients and carers, patient groups, clinicians and the
pharmaceutical industry, determined to ensure patients living with cancer have
access to the care they deserve. Currently, the policies that facilitate access
to treatment, support and care – particularly, how we reimburse medicines for
cancer – have not adapted quickly enough.
NOA Co-Chair Richard Vines said, “We will
work with the PBAC, and all sides of politics, to ensure the reimbursement of
medicines in this country adapts to allow subsidised access to exciting
treatment options for patients, regardless of cancer type, as the days of a one
size fits all approach are behind us.
“Cancer is a community-wide problem that
demands collaboration for real progress to be made. By working together, we’re
confident we can find a way to deliver equitable access to medicines, quickly.”
A new survey of Australian Oncologists has
found that over 3,500 people are digging deep to find $60,000 per annum to
access potentially lifesaving medication, totalling over $200 million.
Additionally, every year, over 6,000 Australian’s are unable to afford
treatments recommended by their clinicians.
“They should not be missing out on
innovative treatments because of the size of their bank balance,” states Mr
The Honourable Greg Hunt, Minister for
Health, showed great leadership in asking the PBAC to explore options for new
processes that would enable faster access to subsidised cancer treatments. This
announcement was made at Rare Cancers Australia’s CanForum event in August last
year in response to the report Rare Solutions: A Time to Act.
‘Whilst August 17 is a great start, and
PD-1/PD-L1 medicines are the first cab off the rank for the PBAC to find new
pathways for, there are many other innovative oncology medicines that have
potential across multiple cancer types. This inquiry should be the beginning of
a more flexible approach to reimbursement, ensuring patients don’t miss out,”
explains Mr Vines.
Professor John Zalcberg, NOA Co-Chair said
that ‘most Australian’s would be shocked to learn the extent to which
Australian cancer patients were either funding their own treatment or left
without what they need when they need it most.’
“As a clinician, the findings of this
survey are confronting” explains Professor Zalcberg “Clearly, the system can’t
take it’s time to adapt because time is what most Australians living with
cancer don’t have.
“Our health system must evolve to a point
where it keeps up with advances in science and empowers clinicians to treat
their patients with what they believe will help their patients beat cancer –
not what our current system limits their access to,” said Professor Zalcberg.
Specifically, NOA is calling on the PBAC
a new process in place that recognises today’s cancer treatments may be life
changing for people living with other types of cancers - beyond what a
treatment may already be reimbursed for on the PBS. For instance, creating a follow-on subsidy
pathway for additional indications for new cancer treatments will streamline
the resource burdens on the PBAC, government and industry, and address some of
the commercial and administrative challenges that can stall applications for
reimbursement and ultimately access to treatment.
outside the box to create a pathway for faster access to new medicines for
vulnerable Australians living with rare and less common cancers. For instance,
a provisional PBS listing through managed access could be a solution in
situations where there is a high level of uncertainty in a PBAC submission for
a rare cancer indication, with additional real-world evidence needed to build
the case for eventual PBS listing.
a molecular testing and classification framework that ensures the compatibility
of PBAC/MSAC evaluation processes with biomarker-led therapies and that enables
aggregation across rare cancers – preserving the role of randomised trial
evidence and addressing areas of high unmet medical need.
- ENDS -
| Mike Lane
|| Alex McInnes
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NOA is a cancer advocacy initiative with
more than 100 members, including patients, patient groups, clinicians and the
pharmaceutical industry to make progress a reality. NOA’s work is directed by a
steering committee, co-chaired by Professor John Zalcberg and Rare Cancers
Australia CEO Richard Vines. NOA’s four pillars – patients, patient groups,
clinicians and the pharmaceutical industry.
About the survey:
To determine the scale of the disadvantage
that the current system brings, a survey of Australian oncologists was
undertaken. 68 oncologists – 15% of all oncologists in Australia2 – responded
to this survey.
1. National Oncology Alliance survey of
Australian oncologists, 2018. Data on file.
2. Australian Institute of Health and
Welfare. Medical Practitioners Workforce 2015. Available online at
Last accessed 03 August 2018.