Hodgkin’s lymphoma treatment now available for $40

A life-saving cancer treatment priced at more than $200,000 is about to become much more affordable for Australian patients.

From May 1, patients fighting Hodgkin’s lymphoma will pay less than $40 for the breakthrough Keytruda drug.

Usually, Keytruda would cost $200,000 per course of treatment but the Federal Government’s move to list it on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme means patients won’t pay more than $39.50 per script. Concession patients will pay $6.40.

The immunotheraphy drug helps the body use its own immune system to fight the cancer.

Keytruda has been used to treat cancers including advanced melanoma. (AAP)

The change will affect an estimated 120 Australians per year.

“A drug that was out of the reach of virtually every Australian will now be in the reach of virtually every Australian,” Health Minister Greg Hunt told Weekend TODAY this morning.

“The Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre’s Dr Michael Dickinson says the listing will help patients whose cancer remains or has spread despite existing treatments.

“Existing therapies such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and stem cell transplant work well for the majority of patients, but for patients with classical Hodgkin lymphoma whose cancer evades treatment, having a new treatment option to offer our patients is welcome news.”

The drug has been available on the PBS for advanced melanoma but not blood cancers.

Hodgkin’s lymphoma is the cancer of the lymphatic system.

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