Improved access to medicines

The Government will provide $331 million over the next five years for medicines to treat lung, bladder, skin and kidney cancer, kidney disease and leukaemia. 

Kidney cancer treatment would usually cost a patient more than $250,000 for each course. With the subsidy, patients can now access these medicines for just $40.30 for each script or $6.50 with a concession card.

The new medicines added to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and the Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (RPBS) include:

  • Osimertinib: used for the treatment of locally advanced or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer
  • Venetocla: used for the treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia
  • Nivolumab: used for the treatment of stage IV clear cell variant renal cell carcinoma
  • Brentuximab vedotin: used for the treatment of CD30 positive cutaneous T-cell lymphoma
  • Inotuzumab ozogamicin: used for the treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.

Another $737 million will go towards helping those with mental illness, with a focus on youth mental health and suicide prevention, providing residential facilities for eating disorders and trials for eight adult mental health centres.

The $5 billion Medical Research Future Fund Ten Year Investment Plan will assist Australian research and provide better patient access to clinical trials.

The Government has also set aside $245 million over five years to support community pharmacies. This will mean increased access to community health services and subsidised medicines, an alignment of pharmacy pricing of medicines with public and private hospitals and improved cash flows for pharmacies through a reduction in processing time for PBS claims.

And $17.1 million will be provided to improve the management of the National Medical Stockpile including the storage, transport, stocktake and disposal of medicines, vaccines and antidotes that are maintained to respond to public health emergencies.

Fighting cancer
The Government will provide $70.8 million for additional infrastructure and services to support the diagnosis, treatment and therapy for cancer patients, as well as $27.7 million for an additional 41 breast care nurse positions at the McGrath Foundation and an extra $17.4 million for up to 34 new prostate cancer nurses and funding for existing nurses under the 2017-18 Budget measure Prostate Cancer Nurses Program.

What medicines or services do you think should be added to the list?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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