We don’t need to change how we subsidise ‘breakthrough’ cancer treatments

Source: The Conversation, November 2017

New therapies that arm the immune system to fight cancer, such as Keytruda (pembrolizumab) and Yervoy (ipilimumab), have offered patients with advanced melanoma real hope of effective treatment.
But until these drugs, known as immunotherapies, were publicly subsidised, they were prohibitively expensive for Australian patients. A patient using Keytruda, for example, would be out of pocket an estimated A$150,000 per year of treatment.
The Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) recommends which drugs to subsidise and list on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). The PBAC uses the same process for all drugs, regardless of the health condition the drug will treat.
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