Cancer drugs: PBS listings and shortages

3 minute read

The Federal Government has added several cancer medicines to the PBS.

The Federal Government has added several cancer medications to the PBS from 1 October. Here’s a brief run-down as well as a quick list of current medicine shortages.

Australians with advanced or metastatic gastro-oesophageal cancers will have access to nivolumab (Opdivo) on the PBS, taking the cost to patients from around $90,000 for a course treatment to $42.50 ($30 from 1 January 2023) or $6.80 for concession card holders.

Pembrolizumab (Keytruda) is now on the PBS for the treatment of squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck, saving patients around $135,000 per course of treatment.

Also listed is avelumab (Bavencio), the first immunotherapy for first-line maintenance in locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma

Other items available on the PBS from 1 October are:

  • decitabine + cedazuridine (Inqovi) for the treatment of patients with myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) including chronic myelomonocytic leukemia
  • enzalutamide 40 mg capsule (Xtandi) for the treatment of prostate cancer
  • new brands for chemotherapy drugs: Plerixafor ARX, XT24 mg/1.2 mL injection, 1.2 mL vial; pomalidomide Sandoz (SZ) 3 and 4 mg capsule and Pomolide 3 and 4mg capsule (pomalidomide)

Current shortages of medicines used in cancer treatment are:

  • Dasatinib Dr.Reddy’s, Dasatinib-DRLA, Dasatinib-RZ, Reddy’s-Dasatinib, 50 and 100mg tablets (for adults with newly diagnosed Philadelphia chromosome positive acute lymphoblastic leukaemia integrated with chemotherapy, Philadelphia chromosome positive acute lymphoblastic leukaemia with resistance or intolerance, and children with newly diagnosed Ph+ ALL in combination with chemotherapy).

Currently unavailable until 15 December due to product recall.

  • Ondansetron, Zofran Zydis ondansetron: 4mg and 8mg (for the prevention and treatment of nausea and vomiting induced by cytotoxic therapy and radiotherapy).

Currently unavailable until 24 October 2022 and 17 October 22 (alternatives to both available)

  • Faslodex fulvestrant 250mg/5mL solution for injection pre-filled syringe (for post menopausal patients with hormone receptor (HR) positive, human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) negative, locally advanced or metastatic breast cancer who have not been previously treated with endocrine therapy, or with HR positive, locally advanced or metastatic breast cancer who have progressive disease following prior endocrine (anti-oestrogen or aromatase inhibitor) therapy).

Discontinued from 31 March 2023 for commercial reasons.

  • Empliciti elotuzumab 300mg lyophilized powder for IV infusion vial, 300 and 400 mg (used to treat multiple myeloma in adults)

Limited availability until 30 November due to unexpected increase in consumer demand.

  • Quadramet samarium [153 Sm] lexidronam pentasodium 6.0 GBq/3mL injection vial (used to help in relieving the pain caused by tumour deposits in the bone).

Unavailable until 30 September 2023

  • ANSTO Health Sodium Iodide(131I) 200MBq/mL injection multidose vial (used in the detection and ablation of residual functioning thyroid tissue in differentiated thyroid carcinoma)

Unavailable until 30 September 2023

  • Muphoran fotemustine 208mg powder for injection vial and diluent ampoule (for malignant melanoma)

Discontinued from 1 October 2022 for commercial reasons

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