Australians wait 18 months for life-saving cancer medications

Source: Xinhua| 2018-08-17 10:38:18|Editor: xuxin
Video PlayerClose

CANBERRA, Aug. 17 (Xinhua) -- Australian cancer patients are being forced to wait up to 18 months for affordable life-saving medication, local media reported Friday.

In a submission to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC), pharmaceutical giant Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS) said that it takes 18 months on average for a cancer treatment to be listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) after being registered by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).

The PBS is a government scheme whereby prescription drugs considered "lifesaving" are subsidized for Australian residents and certain foreign visitors.

According to BMS cancer treatments face the longest wait to be listed on the PBS than treatments for any other disease area.

Greg Hunt, Australia's health minister, convened a special meeting of the PBAC on Friday to explore options for new processes to grant faster access to subsidised cancer treatments.

Jonathan Anderson, medical director of BMS Australia, said that the delay was because the system could not keep up with advances in immune-oncology treatments.

He said he would appear before the special meeting to recommend a pilot program that he said would reduce the waiting period by three months.

"The science is moving so fast but the system has not caught up with the pace of change in the ­science," Anderson told News Corp Australia on Friday.

In its submission to the PBAC, BMS said it had made 15 submissions to the body over the past four years for just one drug.

"We want to avoid groundhog day, as if we have never put a ­submission in for that drug before," Anderson said.

"It is a waste of resources for everyone concerned and for ­patients who are waiting. It is delays that are unnecessary."