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New $160,000 Cancer Drug Will Now Only Cost $468 In Australia

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New $160,000 Cancer Drug Will Now Only Cost $468 In Australia

Those diagnosed with an incurable type of blood cancer could be given renewed hope following the announcement a 'completely new' treatment will be subsidised by the Australian government next year.

According to ABC, Darzalex will be listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) from January 1.

The drug is described as 'a medicine used to treat multiple myeloma, a cancer that causes cancerous plasma cells to accumulate in bone marrow and crowd out healthy blood cells.'

An estimated 18,000 to 20,000 people are currently living with multiple myeloma and about 1,000 die with it each year.

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Miles Prince, the director of molecular oncology and cancer immunology at Epworth Health Care, added that treatment options for the cancer had previously been 'quite limited'.

"For the first time we see amazingly deep responses, for the first time the patient's disease almost disappears - and I emphasise the word almost because it will come back," he said.

"But the deeper we get that response, the longer it lasts for.

"So it becomes actually undetectable for quite some time, and it's the first time we're seeing responses where we just cannot see the myeloma at all. It does come back, but it takes a long time."

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Professor Prince said while Darzalex did not cure myeloma, it was still an 'incredibly powerful tool' that could work for several years.

"In one way it gives us a bit of light at the end of the tunnel, that we may be able to cure this cancer one day," he said.

In what's relieving news for those diagnosed with the rare cancer, the treatment will cost patients as little as $40 per month - or $480 a year - when listed on the PBS, down from up to $160,000 per year. Concession cardholders will pay even less.

Myeloma Australia chief executive Steve Roach said the news was 'enormous' and 'heart-lifting' news for people with myeloma and their families.

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"It's absolutely huge," he said. "People have been waiting for this moment to ... know that we're there with the rest of the world and we have the best treatments available."

Featured Image Credit: Janssen and Genma

Topics: Cancer, Australia, Medicine, Health

Jessica Lynch
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