Hodgkin's patients have Keytruda cost cut


Patients with a form of Hodgkin lymphoma will have the cost of a breakthrough drug slashed by thousands from next month.

Keytruda would have cost $200,000 for each course of treatment but the federal government's move to list it on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme means patients won't pay more than $39.50 a script.

Concession patients will pay $6.40.

The immunotheraphy drug helps the body use its own immune system to fight the cancer.

It's estimated the change will help more than 120 Australians a year.

"A drug that was out of the reach of virtually every Australian will now be in the reach of virtually every Australian," Health Minister Greg Hunt told the Nine Network on Sunday.

The Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre's Dr Michael Dickinson says the listing will help patients whose cancer remains or has spread despite existing treatments.

"Existing therapies such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and stem cell transplant work well for the majority of patients, but for patients with classical Hodgkin lymphoma whose cancer evades treatment, having a new treatment option to offer our patients is welcome news," he said.

The drug has been available on the PBS for advanced melanoma but not blood cancers.

Hodgkin lymphoma is the cancer of the lymphatic system.