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New cancer medicines: Will Australians miss out? ABC National: Life Matters: Listen for 5 minutes


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The USA has one of the most inefficient health care systems in the world. It spends lots more than any other country, but does not score well on most health measures. Men in the USA, for instance, have a life expectancy of 3.3 years less than Australian men. President Obama has launched reforms to start to address these problems.


However, because of pressure from HIV sufferers for access to drugs some years ago, it has a much more efficient system of approving and making available new drugs than Australia does.


This is not news to some of our members:

  • Some have been paying $3,000 - $4,000 per month for Zytiga (abiraterone) after chemotherapy with Taxotere (docetaxel) has failed.
  • Some who would have benefited have had to suffer because they could not afford this.

Both groups knowing that the drug was available to to their American counterparts for free since April 28, 2011.


This month, 2 years and 4 months after our USA colleagues had access, Australian men will get access to Zytiga after chemotherapy fails.


But, in the meantime, Zytiga has been shown to be effective if used before the harsh chemotherapies like Taxotere. So, in the USA (which has a speeded-up 6 month approval process for important drugs) men have had access to Zytiga before chemotherapy with Taxotere (and hence a greater quality of life) since December 2012.


  • For some Australian men Taxotere is not an option because of other health conditions.
  • For some Australian men the much higher quality of life for them and their families with Zytiga before Taxotere is very attractive.

For both these groups the options are limited to:

be wealthy; or

miss out.


Some members and their partners in this category are contemplating the mortgage or sale of the family home.


Member Bill Boucher heard this topic was addressed yesterday on Radio National's Life Matters program:


Cancer is a disease that affects many, with one Australian in two developing the illness at some point in their life. Survival rates have improved, yet according to a new report Australia may lag behind other nations in terms of patient access to a new generation of cancer medicines. The report, by Deloitte Access Economics, suggests that new advances in cancer drugs may not be available or affordable in the future.


To listen to this 5 minute segment:





then Click on

Listen now (or Download audio if you can manage downloads on your computer and wish to keep the show.)

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