Ovarian Cancer Australia submission to the Senate Select Committee into Funding for Research into Cancers with Low Survival Rates

Improving survival rates for women diagnosed with ovarian cancer is a priority for Ovarian Cancer Australia, so we were pleased to see the Australian Senate is investigating the availability of funding for research into cancer with low survival rates.

We have made a submission to the Senate’s Select Committee into Funding for Research into Cancers with Low Survival Rates which can be viewed on our website.

This year in Australia, 1580 women are expected to be diagnosed with ovarian cancer and a further 1047 will die from the disease. Only 44 of every 100 women diagnosed are still alive five years after their diagnosis, making ovarian cancer the deadliest of the gynaecological cancers. Research can improve these outcomes.

Over the past 30 years, considerable government and philanthropic funding has been invested in research into some of the more common cancers, which has prompted an impressive increase in five-year relative survival between 1982-1987 and 2006-2010. For example:

  • breast cancer (72% to 89%),
  • colorectal cancer (48% to 66%)
  • prostate cancer (58% to 92%).

However, survival rates for less common cancers have seen little, if any, improvement. In responding to the Senate Committee’s terms of reference, Ovarian Cancer Australia has made a series of recommendations. You can review our submission, including these recommendations, here.

Listing of olaparib (Lynparza) on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme

In 2016, Ovarian Cancer Australia was invited to present our case to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) to include olaparib (Lyunparza) on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

Olaparib is a new, targeted therapy that prolongs the life of women living with ovarian cancer, giving them the health and wellbeing to live their lives well.

Ovarian Cancer Australia was one of the first organisations to be invited to a consumer hearing, where we made a strong case highlighting the importance of quality of life for women impacted by ovarian cancer.

On 1 February 2017 olaparib was listed on the PBS for the treatment of advanced ovarian cancer among women who have a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation.

Ovarian Cancer Australia welcomed this decision as the most significant development in the treatment of ovarian cancer over the past 30 years. Learn more.


Community Affairs Committee’s Inquiry into the availability of new, innovative and specialist cancer drugs in Australia

In February 2015, Ovarian Cancer Australia lodged a submission into the availability of new, innovative and specialist cancer drugs in Australia.

Our Director of Research and Advocacy, Dr Katherine Nielsen, was witness at the senate hearing in April and upon request by the committee,  made further written recommendations in May 2015. Our submission was based on consultations with women diagnosed with ovarian cancer and their carers, consultations with other cancer support organisations and internal expertise in the field of pharmaceutical development and reimbursement.

OCA made recommendations for improving transparency on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee decision making and streamlining processes.

Therapeutic Goods Administration Discussion paper on the Orphan drugs program released for public comment

Ovarian Cancer Australia participated in a consumer-led panel by the Therapeutic Goods Administration in February 2015. Ovarian Cancer Australia’s response to the TGA’s discussion paper included recommendations for improving the Orphan drugs program and was lodged in June 2015.

The Standing Committee on Health: Inquiry into Chronic Disease Prevention and Management in Primary Health Care

Ovarian Cancer Australia is a formal member of the Lymphoedema Action Alliance (LAA) which made a strong submission to the Standing Committee in August 2015.

Medical Services Advisory Committee’s Protocol Advisory Sub-Committee (PASC): Application 1380

PASC is looking into germline BRCA mutation testing to determine eligibility for Olaparib maintenance therapy in patients with platinum-sensitive relapsed ovarian cancer, including fallopian tube or primary peritoneal cancer, with high grade serous features or a high grade serous component.

Ovarian Cancer Australia provided a written response and supporting documentation for the BRCA testing protocol in November 2014. Our submission was informed by a previously conducted qualitative consumer survey and through conducting a focus group involving women with high-grade serous cancer.

Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee public submission regarding the use of bevacizumab in advanced epithelial ovarian, fallopian tube or primary peritoneal cancer

Ovarian Cancer Australia made a written submission in November 2013. Our submission was informed through a qualitative study whereby in depth interviews with women with advanced ovarian cancer who were disease-free after their initial treatment and women who had experienced one or more recurrences. The interview process was designed to explore the value that women place on the end points that are commonly reported as the basis for decisions about the efficacy of therapeutic agents – progression-free survival and overall survival.