Breast cancer battles ease as PBS list expands

Angelina Jolie's surgeon Kristi Funk has listed 10 tips for avoiding breast cancer.

Angelina Jolie's surgeon Kristi Funk has listed 10 tips for avoiding breast cancer. Photo: Getty

For breast cancer battler Kristina Gorscak, Sunday was a life-changing day.

Key drugs used to fight the disease were brought onto the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, making it more accessible for thousands of Australians.

For Ms Gorscak, 55, of Sydney, the listing will transform her life.

She was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011, and in August 2019, it resurfaced and metastasised.

The battle has cost her thousands of dollars.

A low point came last year, when she was almost forced to sell her house to continue to pay for treatment.

“When you’re dealing with a diagnosis of cancer to start with, you’re going through a sense of loss … your independence is lost, you have to go through the treatment, you’re trying to make a balance of your family,” Ms Gorscak said.

“Then the financial hardship on it. The burden. It’s just so stressful.

“Being able to have this medication on the PBS means people can still live their normal life.”

The drug Kisqali’s PBS listing will be expanded, to be used in combination with the Fulvestrant Sandoz drug.

Fulvestrant Sandoz will also be made available on the PBS for the first time as a single-drug treatment for advanced breast cancer.

“This is an important day in ensuring we’re delivering the best possible treatments to all Australians living with metastatic breast cancer,” Breast Cancer Network Australia chief executive Kirsten Pilatti said.

The listings of two drugs, Opdivo and Yervoy, will be also extended for some Australians with advanced lung cancer.

The country’s asthma sufferers will also benefit from the list changes, with one new drug – Atectura Breezhaler – will be added to the PBS and one drug, Dupixent, will have its listing extended.

“For people with severe uncontrolled asthma, finding treatments that work can be an enduring and expensive exercise, including countless hospitalisations and serious setbacks,” Asthma Australia chief executive Michele Goldman said in a statement.

“We welcome the PBS listing of Dupixent … it puts an important treatment option within greater reach of many Australians.”

Australians who use the drug Evenity to treat their osteoporosis will see their scripts drop to $41.30 (or $6.60 concession) from an estimated $2300 per month.

-with AAP

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