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
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.
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.