A $200,000 Cancer Treatment Will Cost $40 in Australia, Thanks to Government Subsidy

The Australian government will subsidize a new treatment for Hodgkin lymphoma, bringing its price down from $200,000 per course to $39.50 for most people, and $6.40 for concession patients, reports The Courier Mail.
Hodgkin lymphoma is a form of cancer that affects the lymphatic system, which is a part of the immune system that consists of a group of glands and vessels throughout the body. The lymphatic system is filled with lymphatic fluid that contains white blood cells called lymphocytes that fight infections. In patients with Hodgkin lymphoma, a type of lymphocyte, called B-lymphocytes, abnormally multiply and also build up in certain areas of the system. This prevents the cell from fighting diseases, making frequent infections one of the symptoms of Hodgkin lymphoma. Other signs to watch out for include weight loss, a fever, persistent coughing, sweating during the night, and itchy skin.

Over 6,000 people are diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma each year in Australia. Although this form of cancer is particularly aggressive, it also tends to respond well to treatment. The five-year survival rate for Hodgkin lymphoma is over 80% in Australia. The treatment plan depends on the patient’s circumstances, including age and overall health, since some therapies are more aggressive than others.

The Hodgkin lymphoma treatment that will become government subsidized in Australia is called Keytruda. Keytruda is an immunotherapy drug that helps the body’s immune system to destroy the cancer. Cancer cells can avoid detection by the immune system by being in the PD-1 pathway. Keytruda blocks the PD-1 pathway, which helps immune system cells to find and destroy cancer cells. The drug is particularly helpful for patients who have found that other treatment options have not worked.

The drug will change in price in Australia from $200,000 to $39.50 (or $6.50 for concessions) thanks to government subsidies. This will make a previously inaccessible drug much more readily available for patients who need it, and it is thought that over 120 Australians will benefit from this scheme each year.
The Australian Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) will implement the planned subsidy. The PBS has already funded the drug Keytruda for patients with advanced melanoma.

Anna Hewitt

Anna Hewitt

Anna is from England and recently finished her undergraduate degree. She has an interest in medicine and enjoys writing. In her spare time she likes to cook, hike, and hang out with cats.

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