Keytruda and asbestos

June 10, 2016 at 10:47 AM

Last year the Federal minister for health, Susan Ley announced that the drug Keytruda was, from September, to be listed under the Pharmecutical Benefits Scheme.

Minister Ley said the drug which cost patients $150,000 a year, would now cost about $38, or just over $6 for those on concession.

She said the drug which had passed through the Therapeutic Goods Administration, and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee and would be available from September and would providie an important lifeline to more than 1,100 Australians with melanoma.

The drug was recently identified as being part of the treatment regime of AFL Hawthorn Football Club star Jarryd Roughead after the diagnosis of Melanoma. Well-known Australian businessman Ron walker is often quoted as a beneficiary of the efficacy of the drug.

Advanced melanoma is fatal in nearly all patients, so without drugs like Keytruda and other new melanoma drugs, the future for patients is grim - but now it is different.

Oncologist Professor Grant McArthur, from the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, said Australia had the highest rates of melanoma in the world, and added that the drug was "revolutionary".

"Australians will be amongst the first in the world to get access to this new treatment," he said.

Now supporters of the use of Keytruda for the treatment of Mesothelioma have renewed calls for the inclusion of the drug under the PBS. A petition on is asking Minister Ley to extend the benefits to suffers of Mesothelioma which demonstrates similar traits to the better known skin cancer in its prognosis.

The Australian Mesothelioma Registry report for 2012  reported 619 notifications of people newly diagnosed with mesothelioma between 1 January and 31 December 2012. 

The blog reports that Merck's drug trial shows 'Encouraging results in Mesothelioma clinical trial. Supporters of the use of Keytruda are actively lobbying for the addition of Keytruda to the PBS. If you wish to add your voice to subject, go to