Dialog Box


Statement of Common Purpose

Cancer is not one disease; it is many hundreds of diseases. Each of these can manifest differently in each cancer patient. In 2013 over 44,000 Australians will die from one of almost 200 cancers. Over 100,000 will be diagnosed and treated for these diseases. These numbers will increase dramatically over the coming years. Age makes us more vulnerable to most cancers and Australia is ageing rapidly. In 2020 the number of deaths from cancer each year in Australia will exceed 100,000 unless something changes.


Treating cancer is a challenge of infinite complexity. In the past drug treatments (chemotherapy) largely ignored this complexity and worked on a "one size fits all" approach. This historical approach worked well within existing public health frameworks, such as the Australian PBS, as they had been established specifically to provide free or affordable access to a common drug that would benefit the community at large. 


Much has happened in cancer research the past 20 years. We have begun to understand what changes occur to enable cancer to develop and the unique relationship between individual patients and their cancer. As a consequence, the emerging therapeutic opportunities of activating the patient’s immune system provide both exciting and challenging prospects for the near future of cancer treatment. The term “personalised medicines” is being used to describe this development.


These developments are both challenging and exciting. Exciting because, for the first time, there is the real prospect of effective, curative treatments. Challenging because there are hundreds of new treatments in the pipeline and they will force a re-think on how we, as a society, ensure prompt availability and community affordability for all cancers and all cancer patients.


Addressing this challenge is the purpose of the Cancer Drugs Alliance.


The membership of the Alliance is comprised of individuals and organisations including practising haematologists and oncologists, cancer patient support groups and advocacy organisations, and pharmaceutical companies currently providing oncology treatments to the Australian community. The purpose of the Alliance is to work together with Federal and State Government as well as all other stakeholder groups on timely and affordable access to new cancer medicines. The members hold the strong view that only by bringing together the expertise of those engaged in cancer treatment and support will we achieve the shared goal of world’s best practice in cancer treatment in Australia.


The members of the Alliance are committed to achieving the best outcomes for Australian cancer patients. The members acknowledge that either directly or through government bodies such as Medicare and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme they are primarily funded by the Australian tax-payers . It is in this context that the members wish to make clear that the sole focus of the Alliance is the improvement of the system as a whole. The Alliance does not advocate for any specific treatment or procedure.