Bristol - Myers Squibb and Julia Gillard: Calling for Yervoy (ipilimumab) to be listed on the PBS.
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NIGEL Williams has 22 tumours from stage four metastatic melanoma that has spread to his lungs, liver and bones. The father of two, who was diagnosed about six months ago, is determined to travel to Queensland in October for his son's wedding.
American-made drug Yervoy uses the body's immune system to fight off advanced skin cancer. It has been registered for use in Australia but costs $120,000 for treatment. And subsidy knockbacks prompted drug company Bristol Myers Squibb to axe its patient access scheme, which provided Yervoy for free.
Half the patients using standard chemotherapy treatments survive for 6-9 months with advanced melanoma, while with Yervoy their expected survival rate is 18-19 months and some are even alive 5 years later.
Yervoy which works in 40 per cent of melanoma patients who have a gene mutation are the first drugs to show a survival advantage in melanoma compared to other drugs avaliable that only show a 10% survival advantage which are on PBS.
For those disadvantaged families that can't afford Yervoy what hope do they have?
This drug is awaiting a simple signature from Julia Gillard to be made free to the public and potentially be saving lives within Australia and also giving hope to families fighting this disease.
The 58-year-old knows there are others who cannot afford the $120,000 cost.
"We can afford it - just - but what happens to those who can't? It's not fair," Mr Williams said.
He has called for the drug, approved by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee last November, to be listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
Melanoma Patients Australia chief executive Tilly Ryan said it was disappointing that the treatment was not subsidised in Australia.
"Melanoma is Australia's cancer and it's unfortunate for Australian melanoma patients that, despite living in the country with the highest incidence rates, we are not leading the world.''
Please sign this petition and prompt Julia Gillard to sign off this Drug to save the lives of the less fortunate fighting advanced melanoma.
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