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Advances in subsidised breast cancer treatment

10 July 2005

Further advance in subsidised breast cancer treatment

New generation hormonal drugs are to be subsidised for some women with early breast cancer from 1 August 2005.

Under the decision by Government drug-funder PHARMAC, aromatase inhibitor drugs such as letrozole and anastrozole will be funded for women with early stage breast cancer who are unable to take tamoxifen.

Aromatase inhibitors are already fully funded for women with advanced breast cancer.

And PHARMAC Chief Executive Wayne McNee says that in response to comments from patients and clinicians, the agency is also reviewing all hormonal breast cancer treatments. This could lead to aromatase inhibitors being funded for all women with early stage breast cancer.

“This is the second time in a year that we have widened access to aromatase inhibitors and is further good news for women with breast cancer,” Wayne McNee says.

“It was important to take this step for women intolerant of tamoxifen as we were aware that this was a group of patients with limited subsidised treatment options available.

“During consultation we also received comments from some people that they thought aromatase inhibitors should be funded as a first-line treatment for early stage breast cancer, so in response to these comments we will be doing further work in this area.”

Wayne McNee says new funding for cancer therapies has recently become available which has helped to enable the latest decision to be advanced.

PHARMAC estimates that up to 1200 more women could be eligible for the new subsidy, and that expenditure on aromatase inhibitors will increase by more than $11 million over the next five years.


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