Inequalities in drug access for cancer patients — ASN Events

Inequalities in drug access for cancer patients (#251)

Dan Mellor 1
  1. Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, St Andrews Place, East Melbourne, VIC, Melbourne

Medicines are one of the pillars of cancer treatment.  The evolution of cellular biology has seen the introduction of a wide range of anticancer drugs – with this increase in treatment options comes a far greater financial burden on society.  The transition of some cancers into chronic diseases has long-term financial implications for cancer patients taking medication. 

Where medicines are not subsidised by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), patients who can afford to pay will receive the gold standard treatment while those that cannot potentially go without. Access in public hospitals to unfunded medications varies from state to state and even from hospital to hospital in the same city.  The medicines regulatory framework in Australia prevents many drugs with good clinical evidence from being reimbursed by the PBS1.

All of these different factors can conspire to introduce marked inequality of access to anticancer medicines for patients across Australia.  This presentation will discuss the underlying reasons for some of these issues.

  1. Mellor JD, Van Koeverden P, Yip SW, Thakerar A, Kirsa SW, Michael M. Access to anti-cancer drugs: Many evidence-based treatments are off-label and unfunded by the PBS. Intern Med J. 2012 Feb 28. doi: 10.1111/j.1445-5994.2012.02751.x.