Acknowledging the efficacy of Glaxo's Tykerb in fighting cancer, the federal government of Australia has chosen to make it available under the pharmaceutical benefits scheme.
The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme or PBS provides subsidised prescription drugs to residents of Australia. It seeks to ensure affordable and reliable access to a wide range of medicines.
Health Minister Nicola Roxon said Tuesday that Tykerb would be listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme from May 1 for patients fighting advanced HER-2 breast cancer.
The drug has been found to improve symptoms and slow the progression of the particularly aggressive cancer, which claims the lives of 87 per cent of sufferers within five years.
Ms Roxon said about 2000 Australians were diagnosed with HER-2 positive breast cancer each year.
"HER-2 positive breast cancer is one that has spread to distant parts of the body or which cannot be removed with surgery," she said.
At $4000 a month, the treatment had been too expensive for many sick women to afford.
The drug's manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline, had been providing its own subsidy to ensure women had access to Tykerb, however the arrangement was due to expire on May 31.
Its listing is expected to cost $10 million a year.