Cancer patient Sarah Austin raises $120,000 for life-prolonging treatment
SARAH Austin has been forced to raise more than $120,000 to get a life-prolonging cancer drug.
Through tireless fundraising, the 32-year-old has managed to pay for 12 courses but still has four to go.
The drug she needs, brentuximab vedotin (Adcetris), is approved for use, but is not government-subsidised.
The Leukaemia Foundation said despite it being the first new lymphoma treatment in a decade, many patients could not get it because of the lengthy approval process.
They either have to pay for it themselves, or be lucky enough to be one of those newly diagnosed who get it through involvement with a clinical trial.
“It’s a really expensive therapy, and for most people it’s just beyond their means,” said Dr Anna Williamson, the foundation’s head of research and advocacy.
“It’s a sad state of affairs when you have to fundraise for your own treatment.”
Dr Williamson supports a push by the Herald Sun and cancer groups to set up a scheme that allows patients to get drugs during the medicines approval process.
“Here in Australia, we don’t have access to most of these drugs unless a patient is on a trial. We have to wait until the companies have enough evidence from their trials to put to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee, who assesses its effectiveness and cost-effectiveness,” Dr Williamson said.
But it can be hard to gather this data. It takes a long time to recruit patients with less common cancers for trials.
“At the moment, the patients are losing because they have nowhere to go,” Dr Williamson said.
federal Department of Health spokeswoman said the drug had been recommended for listing on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme twice, but at a lower price than the one proposed by the pharmaceutical company.
She said it might be possible for a patient’s treating doctor to apply to a hospital for help with the cost.
BY LUCIE VAN DEN BERG, Read the original here