Prostate Cancer ‘hot spots’ revealed after new medicine subsidy announced

Prostate Cancer ‘hot spots’ revealed after new medicine subsidy announced

Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancer in Australia and according to article published by Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (PCFA), it is the is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths among Australian men. It is projected that this year alone, 25,487 Australian men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and 3,743 will lose their lives to the disease – a 25% increase in the number of deaths from prostate cancer since 2007.

Recent findings from the PCFA’s STARGATE Analysis of Prostate Cancer Diagnosis in 2023 have revealed high rates of advanced prostate cancer diagnoses in Launceston and North-East Tasmania, just as the Federal Government announces a new medicine subsidy. This subsidy will allow thousands of Australian men battling an advanced form of prostate cancer to launch a three-pronged attack against their disease.

Medical experts are welcoming Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) access to the first and only medicine specifically registered by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) for use in triple therapy to fight cancer in a number of different and complementary ways as soon as it has escaped the prostate.

From 1 December, men with metastatic hormone-sensitive prostate cancer (mHSPC), a cancer that has spread beyond the prostate to organs such as the lymph nodes, bone, lung and liver, will receive subsidised access to NUBEQA® (darolutamide) for the first time. It will form part of a three-pronged treatment, used alongside chemotherapy and hormone therapy (androgen deprivation therapy or ADT).

Developed jointly by Bayer and Orion Corporation, a globally operating Finnish pharmaceutical company, NUBEQA is an oral treatment option for metastatic hormone sensitive prostate cancer that is registered by the TGA for use in conjunction with androgen deprivation therapy and chemotherapy (docetaxel). It belongs to a class of medicines known as androgen receptor inhibitors.  

As outlined in Bayer Australia NUBEQA Product Information 2023, like all medicines, NUBEQA is associated with some side-effects. While uncommon, the most frequent adverse drug reactions include fatigue, rash, or pain in an extremity. Notably, patients with mHSPC receiving NUBEQA in combination with docetaxel most frequently experienced constipation, decreased appetite, rash, and hypertension. 

Genesis Care Medical Oncologist Dr Laurence Krieger explained that NUBEQA works to starve cancer cells of the hormones they need to grow and divide, while androgen deprivation therapy blocks production of the cancer-stimulating hormones, and chemotherapy works to destroy cancer cells. 

“Sadly, prostate cancer remains the second greatest cancer killer of Australian men. New treatment options are desperately needed,” he said. 

Through the PBS, eligible men will pay just $7.30 (on concession) or $30.00 (general patients) each month for NUBEQA. Without the PBS subsidy, these tablets could cost more than $42,000 each year in addition to the cost of other anti-cancer medicines. 

The major funding announcement comes as Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (PCFA) releases a snapshot of advanced prostate cancer diagnosis across Australia. The analysis shines a light on 20 regional and suburban ‘hot spots’ – including Launceston & North-East Tasmania – where prostate cancer is diagnosed late, and men are detected with advanced disease (Stage 4) at rates significantly higher than the national average. 

“Every year nearly 4,000 Australian men will be diagnosed with incurable Stage 3 or 4 prostate cancers,” said PCFA CEO Anne Savage. 

“The listing of medicines such as NUBEQA for more men is an important development for thousands of Australian fathers and sons,” she said. “However, we need to continue raising awareness so that all Australian men get a fair chance of detecting prostate cancer early, so that we can beat it.” 

“We are tremendously grateful to Health Minister Mark Butler for supporting men and families in our community with this new listing,” Ms Savage added. 

Ashraf Al-Ouf, CEO of Bayer Australia and New Zealand Group and Country Division Head for Pharmaceuticals, stated: “Timely access to additional treatment options could be a key moment for someone living with prostate cancer – potentially impacting their ability to live well alongside family and friends”. 

“Bayer is proud to deliver NUBEQA as an additional treatment option for men with this form of advanced prostate cancer, as well as stand behind PCFA in its efforts to raise awareness of the disease and address barriers to early diagnosis,” he said. 

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