Dialog Box

Timely access to effective and affordable treatments

Ovarian Cancer has historically been treated with the same “one size fits all” approach, with each person receiving a similar treatment of surgery and/or chemotherapy. Greater understanding of the disease and advances in research have led to the knowledge that ovarian cancer is an umbrella term for many types of the disease, requiring a more nuanced and personalised approach. As we learn more and become aware of new therapies, it is essential these become available to all who might benefit in a timely and affordable way. 

Please find below some examples of this work:  

Ovarian Cancer Australia’s Medicines and Treatments Advocacy

As outlined in the chart below, the drug approval process in Australia is complex, with multiple steps along the way before a drug moves from clinical trial status to being subsidised on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS.)   

Ovarian Cancer Australia engages in advocacy across the process, including engaging with pharmaceutical companies about their plans for bringing novel therapies to Australia, as well as representing the experience of those with lived experience in reviews of the process such as National Medicines Policy (NMP) Review, and the upcoming Health Technology Assessment (HTA) Review.  

Multiple medicines have been put forward in the past year for assessment by Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC), with the hope of more medicines being subsidised by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) for Ovarian Cancer.   

OCA represents the voice of those impacted by ovarian cancer to the committee, and we have also encouraged people to provide their own stories and experiences to the process. Some of these listings have been recommended, and others not yet, and OCA will continue to do what we can to see a greater number of medicines listed more quickly for a greater number of people.   

Please find below past submissions to PBAC and MSAC:  

  •  OCA consumer submission to PBAC on listing of Niraparib as first line maintenance therapy in high grade serous advanced ovarian cancer
  • OCA submission to PBAC on expansion of Olaparib to be given alongside Bevacizumab in first line maintenance therapy in HRD population
  • OCA consumer comment submission to MSAC regarding funding of HRD testing

Ovarian Cancer Australia is not aware of any current opportunities for consumer comments for active submissions.

We are awaiting the outcomes of multiple submissions that are being considered by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) and the Medical Services Advisory Committee (MSAC) at their meetings in March 2023. These outcomes are made public approximately 6 weeks post the meetings, and we will endeavour to update our community on the outcomes and next steps.

Drug approval process in Australia 

Personalised medicine

Personalised medicine is looking at and gathering information on someone’s cancer to better guide treatment decisions. Historically, cancer has often been treated based on the location of the cancer in the body e.g. bowel cancer with one regime, breast cancer another, involving a one size fits all approach. Ovarian cancer has been similar, with treatment often involving debulking surgery with chemotherapy before and/or afterwards. More recently, a range of innovative targeted therapies have emerged for many cancers including ovarian cancer.  

We now know that each person has their own genetic makeup and that makes their cancer different as well. This means that people can benefit by understanding their cancer better and accessing treatments that target their specific changes. Ovarian Cancer Australia is working with leaders in the ovarian cancer space to find ways to make timely access to personalised medicine more equitable across the country, linking people in with existing programs and seeking opportunities to expand the work in this space. If you, a loved one, or someone you are caring for are interested in finding out more, please see our personalised medicine page.