As of 1 February 2017 the drug olaparib (marketed as Lynparza) for treatment of advanced ovarian cancer has been listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
This is the biggest development in the treatment of advanced ovarian cancer in 30 years.
Before 2016, a small number of Australia women had accessed olaparib through clinical trials and compassionate access schemes. Since January 2016, when olaparib was approved by Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration as a treatment for women with BRCA-mutated advanced ovarian cancer, those women who could afford it were able to access the drug for $13,500 for six months of treatment. The PBS listing means that women can now access the drug for a maximum of $38 a month.
Under the new funding, patients will also be able to claim a Medicare rebate for a genetic test to see if they have a BRCA mutation. Up to 20 percent of women with ovarian cancer have a BRCA mutation.
Ovarian cancer has the lowest survival rate of any women’s cancer, with only 43 per cent of patients alive five years after diagnosis. Each year more than 1500 Australian women are diagnosed with the disease and another 1200 die from it. Ovarian cancer is often diagnosed at a later stage making it difficult to treat. It also has a high reoccurrence rate.
This new class of drugs, parp inhibitors, while not providing a cure for ovarian cancer, provides hope that new treatments can be found to treat ovarian cancer.