Australia has finally signed a multi-billion-dollar deal with a global pharmaceutical firm to make the drugs it needs for the treatment of its growing cancer burden.
Key points:Dr Achely Avala, head of the new Cancer Council of Australia, says cancer treatment drugs are available for the first timeIn July, a new joint venture with Roche will help accelerate the development of the cancer treatment drug AchelysartDr Avala says the development will help boost the economy, increase jobs and make the country a more attractive place to liveSource: ABC News | Duration: 01:29:12More than 200,000 Australians will be diagnosed with cancer this year, a third of them aged over 65, according to the Cancer Council.
But while the numbers are growing, many are still struggling to access treatment, particularly for cancers like brain tumours and melanoma.
“The challenge is that the drug companies have a monopoly and so, in the absence of a national policy, they’ve just taken what they can get and taken what’s available to them,” Dr Avala said.
“We’ve seen that with the use of the Acheliesart in the United States and with the Aztreon in Europe.”
They’re very good in the US, but it’s been around for a long time.
“The challenge for Australia is that it has no national policy and they’re just looking at the big markets.”
The Achelesart has proven to be a winner in the fight against brain tumour and melanomas, but Dr Avalasays its use has been hampered by its large price tag.
“Achelysarts are a bit like your standard, standard cancer drugs that are quite expensive, but they are effective in a small proportion of cases,” she said.
The government says Achelisarts are available to anyone, regardless of health insurance status.
“It’s about offering a safe, affordable and effective cancer treatment for those who are at risk, and for those in need,” Dr Walsh said.
Achelisart will be made available in two forms – oral and injectable.
The price of the injectable form will be $20,000 for patients aged 65 and over and $60,000 with those aged 18 to 69.
Dr Walsh said the company had also made a deal with the US pharmaceutical giant Roche to help accelerate development of a new cancer treatment.
“In collaboration with the United Kingdom, Roche is providing the necessary funding for the development and supply of the next generation of Achelicsart and Achellysart,” she added.
“Our priority will be to deliver the most cost-effective and effective solution for those patients in need of a life-changing treatment.”