Breast cancer drugs added to PBS

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MANY breast cancer suffers will pay less for treatment with two new drugs listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

The drugs are specifically designed to treat post-menopausal women with a type of breast cancer known as hormone-dependant early breast cancer and will be available at the subsidised rate from December 1.

One of the drugs, Aromasin, is expected to help more than 5500 patients over four years at a cost of more than $10 million.

t will be available for patients who have already had a minimum of two years treatment with another breast cancer drug, tamoxifen citrate.

The listing of the second drug, Femara, is being extended to include patients who can already be treated with another drug, Arimidex, Health Minister Tony Abbott said.

"The extended listing increases the treatment options available to doctors and patients," Mr Abbott said today.

Earlier this year, another breast cancer drug, Herceptin, was listed on the PBS at a cost of about $470 million over four years.

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Designed to treat the extremely aggressive HER2-positive form of the cancer, Herceptin had previously only been available under the PBS to those with the advanced form of the disease.

Previously sufferers who did not qualify for the subsidy had paid up to $70,000 a year to access the drug.

Mr Abbott today said breast cancer was the most common cancer in women and affected 14,000 people each year.