Australian cancer patients in deadly wait for new medicines

Australian cancer patients don’t have time to wait for access to new cancer medicines.

Australian patients wait longer for access to new cancer medicines compared to patients in other parts of the world, such as the United Kingdom, Canada, France and Germany.

“Australia is the cancer capital of the world.  We are now living much longer, due to a variety of reasons, including good public health policy and extraordinary new treatments. It is also now likely that half of all Australians will develop cancer in their lifetime and one in five will die from it,” Medicines Australia CEO, Tim James, said.

In its submission to the Senate Inquiry into the availability of new, innovative and specialist cancer drugs in Australia, Medicines Australia says the time lag between the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s (TGA) approval and listing on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) is costing patients’ lives.

“We need to challenge how the Government values new cancer drugs and better understand how the community values new treatments for themselves, and their family members,” Mr James said.

“The benefits of cancer drugs are realised over time; building on incremental results to produce other treatments that target different cancer groups. It’s almost like a slow domino effect, once one cancer drug shows results it is then used as a stepping stone to develop other treatments. So, the value of cancer medicines grows over time.

“The delay in listing medicines has a detrimental impact on health outcomes for individual cancer patients, their carers and the community as a whole. We are calling on Government to reconsider the system for access to new cancer medicines, because the current process, focussing on cost as opposed to value, is simply not good enough. Cancer patients can’t wait any longer.

“This Senate Inquiry provides an opportunity for Australia to learn from the actions of other countries in order to develop world leading, innovative access approaches within our country, which will ensure ongoing and sustainable access to new and targeted cancer medicines.

“Action is needed now to improve access pathways for cancer medicines.

“Dialogue with industry is critical to achieving workable solutions that support patients. We look forward to working with government and the community towards innovative access models and faster access to medicines.”

Medicines Australia’s submission will be available on the MA website no later than 5pm, 27 Feb 2015;


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Alexia Vlahos
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