Red tape holds up life-saving drugs
By NERIDA BLOK firstname.lastname@example.org
SCOTT BRADSHAW says rules limiting the drug which could save the life of his fiance, Leanne Myles, are absurd.
Leanne, 28, a former Lismore girl now living in Brisbane, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer two months ago after the birth of her second child.
She was told by doctors the drug, Herceptin, was her best chance of survival.
The drug is registered by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme for the treatment of late stage cancer sufferers.
For those patients the drug, which costs the Australian government about $66,000 per year, per patient, is free.
"When I knew we could get the drug but not (for free) until she was in final stages of cancer, I thought it was absurd," Scott said. "A decision has been made to only administer the drug when there's no chance of survival ? why wouldn't you administer it at the beginning?"
Scott decided to earn the money to pay for Leanne's treatment and last Saturday set off on a 1000 kilometre fundraising walk from Brisbane to Sydney.
Collecting $140,000 so far, he will travel from Woodburn to Chatsworth today.
A spokesperson for the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme said the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) was aware of promising preliminary results of Herceptin.
However, she said the government needed to ensure that safety and effectiveness requirements in Australia for market approval were met.
"The TGA has encouraged Roche Pharmaceuticals (Herceptin sponsor) to submit an application for registration of this drug for early breast cancer," she said.
"At this time Roche has declined to provide the data to the TGA to commence this process. The TGA has advised Roche that it will treat a submission containing this information with some priority."
A Roche spokesperson said the company was currently preparing a submission to the TGA.
"Everyone is trying to make sure this is listed but at the same time processes need to be followed responsibly," he said.