Affordable treatment for recurrent melanoma

Department of Health

From 1 March 2023, Australians with recurrent melanoma will have a new treatment option subsidised by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

The PBS listings of Opdivo® (nivolumab) and Yervoy® (ipilimumab) will be expanded to be used in combination to treat Stage III or IV malignant melanoma in patients who experience a recurrence of melanoma while receiving or within 6 months of completing adjuvant PD-1 inhibitor monotherapy.

Melanoma is a serious form of skin cancer that if not found early, can likely spread to other parts of the body. Australia has one of the highest rates of melanoma in the world with one Australian diagnosed with melanoma every 30 minutes.

While 90 per cent of melanomas can be successfully removed if diagnosed early, there may be recurrence in the skin or elsewhere in the body.

The expanded PBS listing is expected to benefit an average of 110 patients a year who would otherwise pay around $10,200 for a course of treatment.

Following the Australian Government’s historic cut to the PBS general co-payment from January, eligible patients will now pay a maximum of $30 per script for this vital therapy.

Since July 1, 2022, there has been additional funding approved for 65 new and amended listings on the PBS.

Quotes attributable to Minister Butler:

“Almost 17,000 Australians are expected to be diagnosed with melanoma this year.

“For those Australians who unfortunately have the shock news of melanoma reoccurrence the expansion of these PBS listings will give them new hope and will save lives.

“Instead of paying an exorbitant $10,200 for a course of treatment it will now cost these patients a maximum of $30 per course of treatment thanks to the Government’s cheaper medicines policy.”

Quotes attributable to Professor Georgina Long AO, Co-Medical Director of Melanoma Institute Australia (MIA):

“This PBS listing means subsidised treatment is now available for high-risk melanoma patients whose disease recurs after having adjuvant anti-PD-1 therapy.

“This is a significant milestone for not only these patients and their families, but also for clinicians around the country who now have more options for patients.

“Australia has the highest melanoma rates in the world, and subsidised access to this treatment will undoubtedly save lives.”

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