Australians suffering from melanoma and multiple sclerosis will soon have new treatment options, with new and amended PBS listings on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) coming into effect on 1 November.

The Morrison Government will expand the current PBS listings of Tafinlar® (dabrafenib) and Mekinist® (trametinib) to include subsidy for post-surgery treatment for patients who have Stages IIIB, IIIC and IIID melanoma.

Over 260 patients per year are expected to benefit from this listing each year. Without the PBS subsidy, patients might otherwise pay more than $128,900 for each course of treatment for these medicines.

Stage III melanoma means that cancer cells have spread into skin, lymph vessels or lymph glands close to the melanoma but they haven’t spread to other parts of the body.

Australia has one of the highest rates of melanoma in the world – 11 times higher than the worldwide average; more than twice the rate than the UK or USA.

It is estimated 15,229 Australians will be diagnosed with melanoma in 2019, and approximately 400 will have Stage III resected BRAF mutation positive melanoma.

Additionally, paediatric patients being treated for relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis will benefit from the extension of two medicines listings.

The current PBS listing of Gilenya® (fingolimod) will be amended to include a new strength of this medicine for treatment of patients weighing 40kg or less, including paediatric patients.

Up to 17 patients with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis are expected to benefit from this listing each year. Without the PBS subsidy, patients might otherwise pay more than $28,800 for a course of treatment.

The PBS listing of Tysabri® (natalizumab) will be extended to remove the age restrictions for this medicine, to subsidise use in paediatric patients with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis.

Without the PBS subsidy, patients might otherwise pay more than $17,500 each year and it is expected that an additional 10 patients per year will have access to this medicine.

These PBS listings were recommended by the independent expert Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC).

Through the PBS patients will pay a maximum of $40.30 per script, with concessional people paying just $6.50 per script for these medicines.

Since 2013, the Morrison Government has made more than 2,200 new or amended medicines listings on the PBS. This represents an average of around 30 listings per month – or one each day – at an overall cost of around $10.6 billion.

Unlike Labor, we are listing all medicines recommended by the medical experts on the PBAC. In 2011, Labor stopped listing medicines on the PBS because they could not manage the economy.

Our commitment to ensuring that Australians can access affordable medicines, when they need them, remains rock solid.

We are able to provide unprecedented levels of support to health and medical research because of our strong economic management.

About Tafinlar® and Mekinist®

  • Tafinlar® and Mekinist® is the first treatment targeting the BRAF gene mutation to be reimbursed for patients with Stage IIIB-D melanoma following surgery.
  • Whilst survival rates for those with early stage disease are very high, without treatment nearly one in two people with Stage IIIB-D melanoma at diagnosis will experience a recurrence within one year of surgery.
  • Tafinlar® and Mekinist®, known as targeted therapies, work on different proteins involved in tumour cell growth that are active in patients with a melanoma carrying the BRAF gene mutation.
  • By targeting and blocking growth signals from these proteins, Tafinlar® and Mekinist® can slow down or stop cancer growth.