— Anne Wilson, Kidney Health Australia

After 5 years of submissions, Novartis announced in September that Afinitor will be PBS-listed in Australia (this means it will be subsidised) for the treatment of patients with Stage IV clear cell variant RCC, who have progressive disease following first-line treatment with a tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) or who have developed intolerance to a TKI.

It has taken more than five years to get to this point. Afinitor was approved as safe by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) on 29 July 2009, but the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) only agreed to reimburse for its use this year. The patient must have a WHO* performance status of 2 or less and Afinitor must be the sole PBS-subsidised therapy for this condition.

“This is a huge step forward for kidney cancer patients in Australia,” said Deb Maskens, Co-Chair of the IKCC. “Hopefully it will open up the door for a “choice” in 2nd line therapy at some point (example: either Afinitor or Inlyta). The first step is to get any one second-line treatment approved for funding.”

* WHO = World Health Organization