BILL SHORTEN MP
LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR INDIGENOUS AFFAIRS &
ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDERS
MEMBER FOR MARIBYRNONG
CATHERINE KING MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR HEALTH AND MEDICARE
MEMBER FOR BALLARAT
LABOR WILL GIVE LEUKAEMIA PATIENTS NEW HOPE
A Shorten Labor Government will give Australians with leukaemia and blood cancer access to new drugs and therapies that could save their life.
Labor will invest $20 million to give blood cancer patients access to clinical trial drugs and therapies for blood cancer through a new Right to Trial program.
Blood cancer, also referred to collectively as haematological cancers, is a complex group of diseases linked by their origins in the bone marrow, where blood is produced.
They are the second most frequently diagnosed cancers in Australia and the second biggest cause of cancer death.
The latest AIHW Cancer in Australia 2019 report predicts that more than 17,000 new cases of blood cancer will be diagnosed in 2019. That’s 47 people diagnosed with a blood cancer every day. More than 6,700 people will die from blood cancer this year alone.
Part of the problem is that while game-changing treatments are being developed, they are often too slow to get to patients when they need it most.
We know that the fastest way to get access to the latest drugs and treatments available in the world is through clinical trials. This is also the only way to develop the evidence needed to list treatments on the PBS and MBS – providing access for all.
Research from the Leukaemia Foundation found that one in five blood cancer patients tried to access a clinical trial but there either weren’t any trials available or they weren’t eligible. Less than 30 per cent had access to genetic and genomic testing to inform their diagnosis and treatment.
For people with a blood cancer, this could be a death sentence.
That’s why a Shorten Labor Government will invest $20 million to develop a new approach to evidence development and enable faster access to emerging therapies through a Right to Trial program for blood cancer.
Our $20 million commitment will give around 1,800 blood cancer patients access to new and emerging treatments specific to the genetic markers for their disease – potentially five to 10 years before they would be available under traditional clinical trial schemes in Australia.
It will also establish the Right to Trial framework and a Ministerial Advisory Group for Blood Cancers.
The Ministerial Advisory Group for Blood Cancers will bring together leading blood cancer clinicians, researchers and patient support organisations like the Leukaemia Foundation, to help us understand the challenges for this complex set of diseases and reduce the number of people dying from blood cancers, which as a group, are the second most frequently diagnosed cancer in Australia.
The Leukaemia Foundation and Tour de Cure have already committed $1.8 million to work with the Garvan Institute in Sydney, SA Genomics in Adelaide and QIMR in Brisbane, to establish a pilot for blood cancers.
Labor’s commitment will dramatically expand this pilot and establish the Right to Trial program, working in partnership with our world-leading blood cancer experts, patient organisations like the Leukaemia Foundation and pharmaceutical industry partners.
This investment is a part of Labor’s $2.3 billion Medicare Cancer Plan – our plan to support Australians battling cancer and cut their out-of-pocket costs. Every Australian deserves quality health care when and where they need it – your bank balance or your postcode should not be barriers to whether you get access to the best health care. Unfortunately, under the Liberals’ savage cuts to Medicare, out-of-pocket costs have increased across the board for GP consultations, specialist consultations and critical cancer procedures.
Scott Morrison has cut $3 billion from the pockets of patients with his six-year Medicare freeze and $700 million from public hospitals – locking in further cuts until 2025. Labor will reverse the Liberals’ cuts to health, address rising out-of-pocket costs, fund the best cancer care and provide more support for our world-class researchers to step up the fight against cancer.
This election is a choice between Labor’s plan for better hospitals and better schools, or bigger tax loopholes for the top end of town under the Liberals.
WEDNESDAY, 17 APRIL 2019