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Thursday, 10 May 2018
Page: 3714

Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme

Ms LANDRY (CapricorniaChief Nationals Whip) (14:54): My question is to the Minister for Health. Will the minister outline to the House how a stronger economy enables the government to subsidise life-changing medicine for over 3,000 breast cancer patients, including those in my electorate of Capricornia? Is the minister aware of any alternative approaches?

Mr HUNT (FlindersMinister for Health) (14:54): I want to thank the member for Capricornia. She is absolutely right. A strong economy is essential to provide the funding for record Medicare support. It's essential to record hospitals funding. It's essential to record mental healthcare funding. It's essential to record medical research funding. It's essential to be able to ensure that Australians get the medicines that they are entitled to when the medical experts recommend that something should go on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. As the Prime Minister said, since we came to office there are 1,500 new or amended listings on the PBS—one per day on average. That's $9 billion worth of new drugs on our watch, in our time.

Critically, just this morning, I met a woman from the Canberra area, Lisa Keogh. Lisa has advanced breast cancer and has been given access to a particular drug, Kisqali. Kisqali has not, until now, been on the PBS. It is a drug which would cost women $70,000 a year—beyond the reach of the vast majority of women in Australia. Now, as of the announcement made on budget night, 3,150 women in Australia, as part of a $700 million listing—I'm advised the third largest listing by value in Australian history—will have access to Kisqali for advanced and metastatic breast cancer. What Lisa said to me was that this drug had changed her prospect from having months to years and years and possibly a full measure of life. That is what we do as a government. That is what a strong economy allows us to do. That is what allows us to deliver on compassion and providing real access to real medicines.

I was asked whether there were any alternatives. I did hear the opposition say, 'But this is just the ordinary course of the business of government.' It's funny that they say that, because, under them, it wasn't. They denied the new listing of drugs recommended by the medical experts. They rejected seven medicines that were fundamental—medicines for chronic pulmonary disorder, for asthma, for in vitro fertilisation, for endometriosis and for schizophrenia. You ask: why would anybody do that? Again, I don't think they're evil. I just think they're incompetent. They are economic incompetents. They couldn't manage the economy then, they couldn't manage an economy now and you wouldn't trust them to manage an economy in the future. If you can't manage the economy, you can't manage health. It's as simple as that.