Australians with breast cancer, lung cancer, osteoporosis and asthma may stand to save thousands of dollars each year after new medicines were added to the country's Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
For breast cancer, the fifth-leading cause of cancer death in Australia, the drug Kisqali's PBS listing will be expanded, to be used in combination with the Fulvestrant Sandoz drug.
Fulvestrant Sandoz will also be made available on the PBS for the first time as a single-drug treatment for advanced breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Network Australia chief executive Kirsten Pilatti said the PBS expansion of the Novartis-developed Kisqali drug was invaluable.
"This is an important day in ensuring we're delivering the best possible treatments to all Australians living with metastatic breast cancer," Ms Pilatti said in a statement.
"The PBS listing is another step closer to making sure Australia doesn't have a two-tiered system where only those who can afford it can access the best care."
Sydney-based Kristina Gorscak, 55, was initially diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011 and the cancer resurfaced in August 2019, becoming metastatic.
Ms Gorscak paid thousands for her Kisqali-Fulvestrant Sandoz combination therapy - amid the COVID-19 pandemic - and was almost forced to sell her Kogarah home.
"When you're dealing with a diagnosis of cancer to start with, you're going through a sense of loss ... your independence is lost, you have to go through the treatment, you're trying to make a balance of your family," Ms Gorscak said.
"Then the financial hardship on it, the burden, it's just so stressful.
"Being able to have this medication on the PBS means people can still live their normal life."
The listings of two drugs, Opdivo and Yervoy, will be also extended for some Australians with advanced lung cancer.
For the 2.7 million Australians living with asthma, one new drug - Atectura Breezhaler - will be added to the PBS and one drug, Dupixent, will have its listing extended.
"For people with severe uncontrolled asthma, finding treatments that work can be an enduring and expensive exercise, including countless hospitalisations and serious setbacks," Asthma Australia chief executive Michele Goldman said in a statement.
"We welcome the PBS listing of Dupixent ... it puts an important treatment option within greater reach of many Australians."
Osteoporosis drug Evenity will also be listed on the PBS for the first time.
For these drugs, patients will from April 1 pay $41.30 per script or $6.60 with a concession card, potentially saving thousands of dollars.
"The government's commitment to ensuring that Australians can access affordable medicines when they need them remains rock solid," Health Minister Greg Hunt said in a statement on Sunday.
He said the Australian government had approved more than 2600 new or amended PBS listings since 2013, at a cost of $13 billion.
Multiple sclerosis oral treatment Zeposia was also earlier this month added to the PBS.