The Morrison Government has announced it is providing access to a new treatment for those with colorectal cancer through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
According to a statement released by the Office of the Hon. Greg Hunt MP, for the first time, Keytruda (pembrolizumab) will have its listing extended on the PBS to include the treatment of unresectable or metastatic mismatch repair deficient colorectal cancer.
This is the first immunotherapy treatment available to Australians with this type of cancer, which cannot be removed by surgery or has spread to an area outside the colon/rectum.
Keytruda is said to belong to a new class of immunotherapy medicines that help the body’s own immune system to detect and fight cancer cells.
The drug is already available on the PBS for other types of cancer, including lung cancer and melanoma.
Reportedly, more than 580 Australians a year will benefit from this listing.
Without PBS subsidy, patients might pay more than $150,000 per course of treatment.
From 1 August, it will be available for $41.30 per script or just $6.60 if they have a concession card.
Bowel cancer screening
The Government is increasing its efforts on cancer screening to help more Australians to get early treatment and beat the disease.
Earlier this year, the Government announced $9.7 million for a new National Bowel Cancer Screening Program awareness campaign.
The campaign will aim to increase the numbers of Australians taking their free bowel cancer test and will focus on men aged 50 to 59 years, people living in regional and remote Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and individuals from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities.
When detected early, the majority of (around 90%) of bowel cancers can be successfully treated.