The Federal Government and drug company, Roche are conducting talks to make the expensive anti-cancer treatment, Herceptin more widely available.
According to Health Minister Tony Abbott discussions with manufacturer Roche has caused the delay in rushing Herceptin on to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
Mr Abbott said,'It is important the Government try to get the best possible deal for taxpayers as well as the best possible deal for patients. So we are to some extent at least dependent on discussions with Roche, the company which makes the drug.'
Mortality rate caused by some types of breast cancer appears to be reduced with Herceptin. However the drug, which costs $50,000 to $60,000 per patient each year, is far too expensive for some victims.
The Government would have to spend about $100 million per year by listing Herceptin on the PBS but it would serve to make this drug more widely available.
According to Mr Abbot the listing of Herceptin was moving ahead more quickly than any other drug since he had become Health Minister.
He said, 'The Government has been pursuing this as quickly as possible. We expedited the consideration of Herceptin by the Therapeutic Goods Administration. We expedited the consideration by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee, and it will now get expedited consideration by Cabinet.'
The drug's benefits lie in reducing the chance of cancer reoccurring in women with a particular type of early-stage breast cancer.
If the Government accepts the recommendation of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee, the drug would be available to around 2100 patients for a subsidized price rather than the current cost.