Source: RACGP 

More than $81 million will help subsidise medicine to help patients with Merkel cell carcinoma and breast-cancer.

What are the key pharmaceuticals subsidised for cancer patients?

Metastatic Merkel cell carcinoma has become the second most common cause of skin cancer death in Australia. Treatment options include the Bavencio immunotherapy medicine, which has just been added to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Sceme (PBS). This medicine is designed to aid the body’s immune system in attacking and destroying cancer cells.

In addition, Ibrance is also set to be which aids in treating advanced inoperable or metastatic breast cancer. Hormone receptor-positive tumours are the most common form of breast cancer and account for most deaths from the disease.

What does this mean?

Without a PBS subsidy, patients would need to pay approximately $150,000 per year for Merkel cell carcinoma treatment, however, from May, the medicine will be reduced to $40.30 per script, or $6.50 with a concession card.

RACGP Specific Interests Breast Medicine Network Chair Dr Alia Kaderbhai said the listing was significant.

Metastatic breast cancer is the leading cause of death from malignant tumour among women globally but many women can’t access treatment because of the high cost.

“The decision to list this new immunotherapy has the potential to save and prolong the lives of patients suffering from advanced disease,” Ms Kaderbhai said.

The approximately 3000 patients who are expected to benefit from Ibrance listing would otherwise have had to pay more than $55,000 a year for the medication. Its inclusion on the PBS means the medicine will be available for $40.30 per script, or $6.50 for concession card holders.


House Call Doctor sends a home doctor to you and your family when your regular GP is closed at night and on weekends and public holidays. To book a house call home doctor patients should call 13 55 66 or book online or via the House Call Doctor App.