Asbestos disease sufferers miss out on PBS listing

Cancer drug Keytruda® must be made available to sufferers of asbestos related cancer, mesothelioma, under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, according to the Asbestos Disease Support Society.

A failure to give mesothelioma sufferers access to this immunotherapy medicine risks creating two classes of patients, ADSS General Manager Trevor Torrens said.

Keytruda was originally listed in the PBS for people diagnosed with melanoma and has now just been made available for patients with advanced lung cancer, but mesothelioma patients have again missed out.

Oncologists are now prescribing Keytruda, an immunotherapy medicine that works with a patient’s own immune system to recognise cancer cells and destroy them to mesothelioma sufferers but the cost can be more than $6,000 for each treatment. If listed on the PBS, the cost could be as little as $40 per script.

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