Access program open for metastatic breast cancer patients

Novartis’ SPARK Plus Access program, an access program for the drug Kisqali (ribociclib), has opened for second line treatment of people with hormone receptor positive, HER2-negative metastatic breast cancer.

This is a welcome move by Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA) who, according to BCNA CEO Kirsten Pilatti, have spent years working hard to apply pressure to pharmaceutical companies to open up access to CDK inhibitors.

BCNA is pleased Novartis has responded to the call, allowing eligible patients access to Kisqali free of charge for second- and first-line treatment, in combination with the drug Faslodex (fulvestrant).

“This will mean so much to women and men who are currently living with metastatic breast cancer, and those who may be diagnosed in the future,” says Ms Pilatti.

“At a cost of around $5,000 per month, Kisqali is well out of the reach of many Australian families.

“This program will mean they won’t have to mortgage their house or take out a loan during what is already a difficult and stressful time for them.”

Kisqali was added to the PBS in July 2018 for the first line treatment for metastatic breast cancer, meaning it is only subsidised for people who have had no previous treatment for metastatic breast cancer.

Since 2017, BCNA has been calling on pharmaceutical companies to open access programs so that people who had previous treatment for metastatic disease and who may benefit from a CDK inhibitor are able to access one at an affordable price.

Ms Pilatti adds that opening up a program like this, during such difficult times has given us something to celebrate.

“We know we have more steps to take but this is wonderful news for those affected and shows the power we have when, together, we use our voices to call for change.”

Fulvestrant is not listed on the PBS and is not provided as part of the SPARK Plus Access program. Patients will need to access it independently, which will incur a cost. Patients are advised to speak with their medical oncologist for more information about the SPARK Plus program and how best to access Faslodex (fulvestrant).

While neither of these drugs is currently on the PBS for this combination treatment, applications for both of them have been made to the Government’s independent assessment committee, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC).

The outcome of the applications is expected by the end of August 2020.

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