Bowel cancer patients eligible to receive Erbitux will now be able to access the treatment without worrying about its impact on their already stretched finances.
Erbitux® (cetuximab) is available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme from 1 September 2011 for patients living with KRAS wild-type metastatic bowel cancer who have not responded to first line chemotherapy.
Julien Wiggins, chief executive officer of Bowel Cancer Australia said the PBS listing was significant for approximately 2,700 individuals each year.
“Bowel cancer patients and their families have enough emotional and physical challenges to manage without worrying about whether they can afford to stay alive.
“The cost of Erbitux is one less stress for them and we’re pleased the Government has finally assisted in alleviating that financial burden,” he added.
Patients are eligible for the subsidised Erbitux treatment if they carry the KRAS wild-type gene and therefore must undergo a KRAS test. This test is currently funded by the manufacturers of Erbitux and is being reviewed for subsidy by the Federal Government.
“The battle against bowel cancer requires prevention and treatment. While screening is important, access to treatment options is equally necessary and therefore Bowel Cancer Australia will continue to advocate for better access to proven, effective therapies.
“We’d like to see the trend of lengthy waits for PBS listings of bowel cancer treatments reversed - Avastin took 12 months and Erbitux has taken 14 months,” said Mr Wiggins. “We can only hope that the 800 patients per year requiring XELOX do not suffer the same wait.”