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Monday, 13 February 2017
Page: 738

Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme

Ms HENDERSON (Corangamite) (15:03): My question is to the Minister for Health and Sport. Will the minister update the House on recent listings on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme? How do these recent listings support hardworking Australian families and reduce cost-of-living pressures?

Mr HUNT (FlindersMinister for Health and Minister for Sport) (15:03): I want to thank the member for Corangamite, who has long been an advocate for families of children with cystic fibrosis, along with many members of this House, including, in particular, the member for Forrest. I also want to acknowledge the member for Farrer, who worked long and hard over many, many months to help families with cystic fibrosis. In that context, it was an honour and a privilege to join the member for Corangamite in visiting families from Cystic Fibrosis Australia outside Parliament House last Wednesday.

Whilst we were there, we were able to make the announcement that the drug Kalydeco will be listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. As a consequence, families who would otherwise have had to pay up to $300,000 a year will be able to access life-saving drugs for children between two and five years of age. It was previously available for children over that age but has now been extended to children between two and five years of age inclusive. For those families and parents, such as those of young Dash—we met those parents—that $300,000 is money that could never have been found. This is exactly the sort of thing that a government should be doing through its healthcare system: providing for those who are least capable with the most important needs. These children's lives will be profoundly different as a result.

In addition to that, this is a Ovarian Cancer month, and I have also been fortunate to list the drug Olaparib on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. That drug would ordinarily have cost $100,000. It will now be made available to over 230 women who face the terrible scourge of ovarian cancer. It is likely to improve the quality of their life significantly. It is likely to extend the quality of their life by a number of years. It is not a cure at this stage, and so medical research is fundamental. Other decisions that we have been able to make in the last few weeks include drugs for lung cancer and drugs for other areas—in some cases, again saving families $100,000 a year.

That is what comes about through a careful and sustainable combination of four pillars: firstly, a commitment to universal access for Medicare and pharmaceuticals; secondly, a commitment to universal access through our hospitals; thirdly, a focus on mental health and preventative health; and, fourthly, a focus on medical research. There is more to be done on medical research to extend the range of outcomes and treatments which can subsequently be listed, but these drugs have been able to be listed because of the combination of medical research coupled with sensible, prudent budget management, which gives us the ability to save lives and improve lives exactly as our health system should be doing.