The Hon.

Ben Morton MP

Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister and Cabinet
Assistant Minister to the Minister for the Public Service
Assistant Minister for Electoral Matters
Federal Liberal Member for Tangney

Landmark PBS listing for Australians with bowel cancer

Jul 20, 2021 | Media Release

Morrison Government is providing access to a new treatment through the
Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) to support around Australians who are
diagnosed with colorectal cancer, a type of bowel cancer.

In 2020, bowel cancer was the third
most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia, with around 15,000 Australians
diagnosed with the disease each year. Sadly more than 5,000 lives are lost to
bowel cancer each year,
making it the second leading cause of
cancer death in Australia.

For the first time, Keytruda®
(pembrolizumab) will have its listing extended on the PBS to include the
treatment of unresectable or metastatic mismatch repair deficient colorectal

This is the first immunotherapy
treatment available to Australians with this type of cancer, which cannot be
removed by surgery or has spread to an area outside the colon/rectum.

Keytruda® belongs to a new class of
immunotherapy medicines that help the body’s own immune system to detect and
fight cancer cells. The drug is already available on the PBS for other types of
cancer, including lung cancer and melanoma.

More than 580 Australians a
year will benefit from this listing. Without PBS subsidy, patients might pay
more than $150,000 per course of treatment. From 1 August, it will be available
for $41.30 per script or just $6.60 if they have a concession card.

This listing has been recommended by
the independent Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee.

Earlier this year, the Government
announced $9.7
million for a new National Bowel Cancer Screening Program awareness campaign.

campaign will aim to increase the numbers of Australians taking their free
bowel cancer test and will focus on men aged 50 to 59 years, people living in
regional and remote Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and
individuals from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse communities.

detected early, the majority of (around 90 per cent) of bowel cancers can be successfully

Government is increasing its efforts on cancer screening to help more
Australians to get early treatment and beat the disease.

Since 2013, the Coalition Government
has approved more than 2,600 new or amended listings on the PBS.

This represents an average of around
30 listings or amendments per month – or one each day – at an overall
investment by the Government of $13.2 billion.

The Morrison Government’s commitment
to ensuring Australians can access affordable medicines, when they need them,
remains rock solid.’