MSD has today been named a Family Friendly Workplace in accordance with the National Work + Family Standards. Established by UNICEF Australia and Parents at Work, the Family Friendly Workplaces certification framework encourages employers to benchmark their own internal standards against nationally recognised best practices.

Prashant Nikam, Managing Director, MSD Australia and New Zealand says, “We respect and value our people. MSD team members contribute a significant part of their day to work, so we need both culture and considerations that are conducive to balancing life outside of work.”

“I believe we have a moral obligation to foster a culture of care, equality, and trust so our people can be their best at work and at home. When people feel supported in the workplace, not only do they benefit through better health and wellbeing, but their families and the broader community benefits too,” he added.

Lisa Onsley, Director of Human Resources, MSD Australia and New Zealand says, “Our policies go a long way in acknowledging the rising pressure families face when integrating work and caring responsibilities and opening the door for change. Family means different things for all of us and it’s important that we continue to foster a culture of inclusiveness.”

“It’s not only about working parents. It’s about creating a workplace that helps everyone be the best they can be,” she added.

Whilst 94% of employees at MSD agree they have the flexibility they need to manage their work and other commitments the company has a 2-year action plan that sets out how their family friendly workplace culture will be strengthened. This includes tailored approaches to meet individual needs, empowering managers to have powerful conversations about individual needs, and exploring engagement levers with their teams.

In March this year MSD was awarded Employer of Choice for Gender Equity for the seventh consecutive year – a clear recognition of their progressive parental leave policy as a key driver to achieving gender equal outcomes. The company continues to encourage all parents to take leave suitable for their needs and their growing families – inclusive of surrogacy, adoption and other caring arrangements.

Eligible Australians with squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN), or advanced endometrial cancer could receive funded access to additional treatment options following recommendations made by the independent Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC).1

These recommendations made by the PBAC are an important step in making these medicines reimbursed for eligible patients.

Prashant Nikam, Managing Director, MSD Australia & New Zealand said, “These are welcome milestones that recognise the role treatment innovation can play in supporting patient outcomes.”

“Australians deserve the broadest and best possible access to medicines. Patients need confidence that the Australian system for reviewing and making new medicines available is robust enough to ensure rapid access to medicines,” he added.


Richard Vines, Rare Cancers Australia said, “Removing the financial stress of the cancer care journey is critical to Australians accessing the support and treatment they need. More patients are having to rely on family and friends to help pay for treatment and the substantial out-of-pocket costs they incur along the way.”

“We need measures in place that can better protect Australia’s most vulnerable patients from this financial duress. These recommendations by the PBAC are an important step towards affordable access to these medicines for eligible Australian’s living with cancer”, he added.

Full details of the PBAC recommendations are available from the PBS website1 and include:

  • KEYTRUDA (pembrolizumab) in combination with LENVIMA (lenvatinib) for advanced endometrial cancer. The PBAC recommended the listing of pembrolizumab in combination with lenvatinib for the treatment of patients with advanced endometrial cancer who have disease progression following prior systemic therapy regardless of biomarker status.

  • KEYTRUDA for SCCHN. The PBAC recommended listing of pembrolizumab monotherapy for first line treatment of recurrent or metastatic SCCHN patients with combined positive score (CPS) ≥20 in their tumour sample, and pembrolizumab in combination with platinum-based chemotherapy irrespective of CPS score.


About KEYTRUDA2 Endometrial carcinoma indication: KEYTRUDA (pembrolizumab), in combination with LENVIMA® (lenvatinib), is indicated for the treatment of patients with advanced endometrial carcinoma that is not MSI-H or dMMR, who have disease progression following prior systemic therapy in any setting and are not candidates for curative surgery or radiation.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Head and Neck (SCCHN) indication: KEYTRUDA (pembrolizumab), as monotherapy or in combination with platinum and 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) chemotherapy, is indicated for the first-line treatment of patients with metastatic or unresectable recurrent HNSCC, and whose tumours express PD-L1 [Combined Positive Score (CPS) ≥1] as determined by a validated test.

KEYTRUDA SELECTED SAFETY INFORMATION2 Precautions: Immune-mediated adverse reactions (ImARs), incl. severe and fatal cases, have occurred in patients receiving KEYTRUDA. These have included, but not limited to: pneumonitis, colitis, hepatitis, hepatoxicity (in combination with axitinib), nephritis, endocrinopathies (adrenal insufficiency, hypophysitis, type 1 diabetes mellitus, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, thyroiditis), severe skin reactions (Stevens-Johnson syndrome, toxic epidermal necrolysis and bullous pemphigoid), uveitis, myositis, Guillain-Barre syndrome, pancreatitis, encephalitis, sarcoidosis, myasthenic syndrome/myasthenia gravis (incl. exacerbation), myelitis, vasculitis, myocarditis, pericarditis and pericardial effusion, peripheral neuropathy, sclerosing cholangitis, solid organ transplant rejection, severe infusion reactions (hypersensitivity, anaphylaxis) and complications of allogeneic HSCT. ImARs have occurred after discontinuation of treatment with KEYTRUDA. ImARs can affect more than one body system simultaneously. Thyroid and liver function tests should be performed at baseline, periodically during treatment and as indicated based on clinical evaluation. Withhold or discontinue KEYTRUDA to manage adverse reactions as described in the Product Information. Adverse events: In patients with endometrial carcinoma treated with KEYTRUDA/LENVIMA, the following adverse events occurred at a rate >20% and at a rate higher than doxorubicin or paclitaxel were: hypothyroidism (67% vs 0.9%), hypertension (67% vs 6%), haemorrhagic events (25% vs 15%), fatigue (58% vs 54%), diarrhoea (55% vs 20%), nausea (49% vs 47%), vomiting (37% vs 21%), stomatitis (35% vs 26%), abdominal pain (34% vs 21%), constipation (27% vs 25%), musculoskeletal disorders (53% vs 27%), decreased appetite (44% vs 21%), weight loss (34% vs 6%), proteinuria (29% vs 3.4%), urinary tract infection (31% vs 13%) , headache (26% vs 9%), dysphonia (22% vs 0.6%), palmar-plantar erythrodysesthesia (23% vs 0.9%) and rash (20% vs 4.9%). Fatal adverse events have occurred. In patients with head and neck cancer, KEYTRUDA was discontinued for adverse reactions in 12% of patients in the KEYTRUDA single agent arm. The most common adverse reactions resulting in permanent discontinuation of KEYTRUDA were sepsis (1.7%) and pneumonia (1.3%). Adverse reactions leading to the interruption of KEYTRUDA occurred in 31% of patients; the most common adverse reactions leading to interruption of KEYTRUDA (≥2%) were pneumonia (2.3%), pneumonitis (2.3%), and hyponatremia (2%). KEYTRUDA was discontinued for adverse reactions in 16% of patients in the combination arm. The most common adverse reactions resulting in permanent discontinuation of KEYTRUDA were pneumonia (2.5%), pneumonitis (1.8%), and septic shock (1.4%). Adverse reactions leading to the interruption of KEYTRUDA occurred in 45% of patients; the most common adverse reactions leading to interruption of KEYTRUDA (≥2%) were neutropenia (14%), thrombocytopenia (10%), anaemia (6%), pneumonia (4.7%), and febrile neutropenia (2.9%). Contraindications: None.

Refer to the Consumer Medical Information leaflet, available online or your doctor or pharmacist for further information about KEYTRUDA.

About LENVIMA3 Endometrial cancer indication: Lenvima, in combination with pembrolizumab, is indicated for the treatment of patients with advanced endometrial carcinoma that is not microsatellite instability-high (MSI-H) or mismatch repair deficient (dMMR), who have disease progression following prior systemic therapy in any setting and are not candidates for curative surgery or radiation.

LENVIMA (lenvatinib mesilate) 4mg and 10 mg hard capsules.4 Lenvima is used to treat liver cancer and thyroid cancer in adults when radioactive iodine treatment has not helped stop your disease. It is also use in combination with everolimus to treat patients with advanced kidney cancer where other treatments have not helped stop the disease and in combination with pembrolizumab to treat a kind of uterine cancer called endometrial carcinoma, if laboratory tests show the cancer is not microsatellite instability-high (MSI-H) or mismatch repair deficient (dMMR) and other treatments have not helped stop the disease.

Lenvima should not be taken if you have an allergy to lenvatinib, the active ingredient or to any of the other ingredients listed in the Consumer Medicine Information (CMI). Check with your doctor if you have high blood pressure; have a history of heart problems or stroke; are over 65 years of age; need to have or have had recent surgery or radiotherapy; have liver or kidney problems; have or have had pain in the mouth, numbness or a feeling of heaviness in the jaw, or loosening of a tooth; are receiving or have received some medicines used to treat osteoporosis or cancer; belong to an ethnic group other than white or Asian, weigh less than 60 kg; have a history of abnormal passageways (known as fistula). Very common side effects include high or low blood pressure; loss of appetite or weight loss, feeling sick and being sick, constipation, diarrhoea, stomach pain, indigestion; feeling sleepy (drowsiness or somnolence); feeling weak; cough or hoarse voice; swelling of the legs; rash; dry, sore or inflamed mouth, odd taste sensation; swelling and inflammation of the joints, and stiff muscles, bones and joints; feeling dizzy; hair loss; bleeding (most commonly nose bleeds); trouble sleeping; increased protein in the urine; urinary infections; pain (muscle, joint, headache, back); redness, soreness and swelling of the skin on the hands and feet; underactive thyroid (tiredness, weight gain, constipation, feeling cold, dry skin); low levels of sodium, potassium and calcium in blood tests; high levels of cholesterol and thyroid stimulating hormone in blood tests; decreases in the number of white blood cells; bruising and difficulty wound healing. Lenvima has risks and benefits. Use strictly as directed.

For more information on Lenvima including side effects see the CMI at or speak with your doctor.

PBS information: KEYTRUDA for SCCHN, and KEYTRUDA in combination with LENVIMA for advanced endometrial cancer are not listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

  1. Australian Government. Department of Health. Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. https://www.pbs.gov.au/pbs/industry/listing/elements/pbac-meetings/pbac-outcomes/recommendations-made-by-the-pbac-march-2022 Accessed April 2022
  2. KEYTRUDA Product Information. https://www.ebs.tga.gov.au/ebs/picmi/picmirepository.nsf/pdf?OpenAgent&id=CP-2015-PI-01639-1&d=20220329172310101 Accessed April 2022
  3. LENVIMA Product Information https://www.ebs.tga.gov.au/ebs/picmi/picmirepository.nsf/pdf?OpenAgent&id=CP-2016-CMI-01213-1 Accessed April 2022
  4. LENVIMA Consumer Medicine Information.https://www.ebs.tga.gov.au/ebs/picmi/picmirepository.nsf/pdf?OpenAgent&id=CP-2016-CMI-01213-1 Accessed April 2022

MSD has today received the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) Employer of Choice for Gender Equity citation holder for 2021–23. This is the seventh consecutive year that MSD has received this significant citation, recognising the company’s continued commitment to achieving gender equality in the workplace.

At MSD 94% of employees believe their manager genuinely supports equality between genders, and 91% strongly agree they have the flexibility they need to work and undertake other commitments. To continue to provide employee flexibility, we have extended our support for new parents regardless of their care-giver status as they return to work – recognising this can be a time of significant change in someone’s life.

Prashant Nikam, Managing Director MSD Australia and New Zealand says, “Flexibility in how people can take parental leave and having no qualifying period are important steps towards creating a family friendly workplace. We are proud to support our employees, regardless of their caregiver status, through more choice in how they care for their family.”

Lisa Onsley, Director of HR says, “We know our parental leave policy changes and improvements have meant that we’re seeing more men take time with their children. Participation in the Employer of Choice for Gender Equity citation for the seventh consecutive year shows our strong commitment to balancing the scales of equality and ensuring all of our employees, irrespective of gender, have equal opportunity to thrive both at home and in the workplace.”

Dave Cushing, IT Site Lead at our manufacturing facility in Bendigo knew that taking time off was the right thing to do for his family after he and wife Jo’s second child Sully had a challenging welcome into the world. “I felt comforted knowing that MSD would be there for me to support me and my family at this time. I felt relieved knowing I was able to access 12 week’s flexible parental leave – giving me precious time and space to focus on supporting my family, at a difficult time,” said Dave.

“It was such a weight off my shoulders. Even after Sully left ICU, he still required a high level of care. I don’t know how I could have coped if Dave wasn’t around,” said Jo.

Today, Sully is a happy and healthy 8-month-old boy. David and Jo are pleased to be watching him grow and reach his milestones.

Parental leave is a key moment that matters in our employee’s lives and MSD continues to encourage all parents to take leave suitable for their needs and their growing families, inclusive of surrogacy, adoption, and other caring arrangements. We are proud of our reputation as a family-friendly employer, and we recognise how important it is for our employees to spend time caring for their families.

We also understand the role that MSD must play in achieving gender equality both inside and outside of the workplace and we know that parental leave is a key driver in achieving gender equal outcomes – which is why we are proud of our progressive parental leave policy where equal leave is accessible to all, there are no qualifying periods to access leave and colleagues are able to take the leave flexibly to suit the different needs of their families.

Read Dave and Jo’s story here.

About the Employer of Choice for Gender Equality (EOCGE) citation. The Employer of Choice for Gender Equality (EOCGE) citation is a voluntary leading-practice recognition program designed to encourage, recognise, and promote organisations’ active commitment to achieving gender equality in Australian workplaces. Receiving the WGEA EOCGE citation is a sign of an organisation’s commitment to making their workplaces equal. This commitment extends across their sectors, as they even influence others in their fields to keep pace with their diversity policies and practices. EOCGE citation holders are some of Australia’s leading change-makers who are driving and embedding gender equality in their workplaces.

In 2019, MSD’s KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab)1 plus Eisai’s LENVIMA® (lenvatinib)2 was fast-tracked in Australia based on early clinical data under the Australian Government’s commitment to streamline processes by collaborating with overseas regulators.

This immuno-oncology combination therapy has now received final approval – and is listed on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG) as a treatment option for a kind of uterine cancer called endometrial carcinoma, if laboratory tests show the cancer is not microsatellite instability high (MSI-H) or mismatch repair deficient (dMMR) and other treatments have not helped stop the disease.1,2

Since 1971, almost 50 years, only two drugs have been approved for endometrial cancer in comparison with approximately 50 for breast cancer.3,4 This treatment, the first combination of immunotherapy and a tyrosine kinase inhibitor for Australian patients with advanced or recurrent endometrial carcinoma, provides a precision treatment option for eligible patients.

Endometrial cancer is the most diagnosed gynaecological cancer in Australia – followed by ovarian and cervical cancer.5 In 2021, it is estimated that more than 3,200 new cases of endometrial cancer were diagnosed (approximately 8 women every day), and an estimated 660 women died from the disease.6 It is most common in women over 60 and in post-menopausal women.5,7

Whilst the chances of surviving for at least five years after uterine cancer diagnosis (of which approximately 95% are endometrial cancer) in Australia is 84%,6 fewer than 1 in 5 women with advanced endometrial cancer will survive 5 years or longer after the cancer is found.5

Dr Sally Baron-Hay, Medical Oncologist, Royal North Shore Hospital says, “Women with advanced endometrial cancer, the commonest diagnosed gynae oncological cancer in Australian have had limited therapeutic options until now and have faced high mortality rates. This approval is a significant step forward in the management of this cancer,” she added.

Currently, there are no screening tests or exams to find endometrial cancer early in women who are at risk, and whilst improved diet and exercise could help to lower the risk, there is no simple method to prevent women from developing this cancer.3,8

Women who have had endometrial cancer may experience physical (fatigue, changes to physical function, pain) and emotional (fear, anxiety, depression) effects from endometrial cancer and its treatment.9 The primary treatment of early-stage endometrial cancer is surgery, but it is not without considerable morbidity, especially in an increasingly ageing population.10

Dr John Bower, Medical Director and Head of Market Access, Eisai, Australia & New Zealand says, “We are very pleased that LENVIMA in combination with KEYTRUDA is now registered for eligible Australian women who have this type of advanced cancer that has progressed following previous treatment and who cannot have surgery or radiation. This has been an area of unmet need for some time, and we are looking forward to pursuing reimbursement for this group of patients.”

Prashant Nikam, Managing Director, MSD Australia & New Zealand, says, “Until now there have been limited options for women who are diagnosed at an advanced stage or find their disease has returned. Eligible Australians are now among the first in the world to have access to this combination therapy.

About KEYTRUDA1 Endometrial carcinoma indication: KEYTRUDA (pembrolizumab), in combination with LENVIMA® (lenvatinib), is indicated for the treatment of patients with advanced endometrial carcinoma that is not MSI-H or dMMR, who have disease progression following prior systemic therapy in any setting and are not candidates for curative surgery or radiation.1

KEYTRUDA SELECTED SAFETY INFORMATION1
Precautions: Immune-mediated adverse reactions, including severe and fatal cases, have occurred in patients receiving KEYTRUDA. These have included, but not limited to: pneumonitis, colitis, hepatitis, hepatoxicity (in combination with axitinib), nephritis, endocrinopathies (adrenal insufficiency, hypophysitis, type 1 diabetes mellitus, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, thyroiditis), uveitis, myositis, Guillain-Barre syndrome, myasthenic syndrome/myasthenia gravis (incl. exacerbation), myelitis, vasculitis, pancreatitis, sarcoidosis, encephalitis, myocarditis, pericarditis and pericardial effusion, peripheral neuropathy, sclerosing cholangitis, solid organ transplant rejection, severe skin reactions (SJS, TEN and bullous pemphigoid), severe infusion reactions (hypersensitivity, anaphylaxis) and complications of allogeneic HSCT. Monitor thyroid and liver function. Immune-related adverse reactions have occurred after discontinuation of treatment with KEYTRUDA, can affect an estimated more than one body system and can occur simultaneously. Adverse events: In patients with endometrial carcinoma treated with KEYTRUDA/LENVIMA, the following adverse events occurred at a rate >20% and at a rate higher than doxorubicin or paclitaxel were: hypothyroidism (67% vs 0.9%), hypertension (67% vs 6%), haemorrhagic events (25% vs 15%), fatigue (58% vs 54%), diarrhoea (55% vs 20%), nausea (49% vs 47%), vomiting (37% vs 21%), stomatitis (35% vs 26%), abdominal pain (34% vs 21%), constipation (27% vs 25%), musculoskeletal disorders (53% vs 27%), decreased appetite (44% vs 21%), weight loss (34% vs 6%), proteinuria (29% vs 3.4%), urinary tract infection (31% vs 13%) , headache (26% vs 9%), dysphonia (22% vs 0.6%), palmar-plantar erythrodysesthesia (23% vs 0.9%) and rash (20% vs 4.9%). Fatal adverse events have occurred. Contraindications: None.

Refer to the Consumer Medicine Information or your doctor or pharmacist for further information about KEYTRUDA.

About LENVIMA2 Endometrial cancer indication: Lenvima, in combination with pembrolizumab, is indicated for the treatment of patients with advanced endometrial carcinoma that is not microsatellite instability-high (MSI-H) or mismatch repair deficient (dMMR), who have disease progression following prior systemic therapy in any setting and are not candidates for curative surgery or radiation.2

Lenvima® (lenvatinib mesilate) 4mg and 10 mg hard capsules.12 Lenvima is used to treat liver cancer and thyroid cancer in adults when radioactive iodine treatment has not helped stop your disease.  It is also use in combination with everolimus to treat patients with advanced kidney cancer where other treatments have not helped stop the disease and in combination with pembrolizumab to treat a kind of uterine cancer called endometrial carcinoma, if laboratory tests show the cancer is not microsatellite instability-high (MSI-H) or mismatch repair deficient (dMMR) and other treatments have not helped stop the disease. Lenvima should not be taken if you have an allergy to lenvatinib, the active ingredient or to any of the other ingredients listed in the Consumer Medicine Information (CMI).Check with your doctor if you have high blood pressure; have a history of heart problems or stroke; are over 65 years of age; need to have or have had recent surgery or radiotherapy; have liver or kidney problems; have or have had pain in the mouth, numbness or a feeling of heaviness in the jaw, or loosening of a tooth; are receiving or have received some medicines used to treat osteoporosis or cancer; belong to an ethnic group other than white or Asian, weigh less than 60 kg; have a history of abnormal passageways (known as fistula). Very common side effects include high or low blood pressure; loss of appetite or weight loss, feeling sick and being sick, constipation, diarrhoea, stomach pain, indigestion; feeling sleepy (drowsiness or somnolence); feeling weak; cough or hoarse voice; swelling of the legs; rash; dry, sore or inflamed mouth, odd taste sensation; swelling and inflammation of the joints, and stiff muscles, bones and joints; feeling dizzy; hair loss; bleeding (most commonly nose bleeds); trouble sleeping; increased protein in the urine; urinary infections; pain (muscle, joint, headache, back); redness, soreness and swelling of the skin on the hands and feet; underactive thyroid (tiredness, weight gain, constipation, feeling cold, dry skin); low levels of sodium, potassium and calcium in blood tests; high levels of cholesterol and thyroid stimulating hormone in blood tests; decreases in the number of white blood cells; bruising and difficulty wound healing. Lenvima has risks and benefits.  Use strictly as directed.

For more information on Lenvima including side effects see the Consumer Medicine Information or speak with your doctor.

PBS information:
This combination is not listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) for endometrial carcinoma.

About the Merck and Eisai Strategic Collaboration. In March 2018, Eisai and Merck, known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, through an affiliate, entered into a strategic collaboration for the worldwide co-development and co-commercialisation of LENVIMA. Under the agreement, the companies will jointly develop, manufacture, and commercialize LENVIMA, both as monotherapy and in combination with Merck’s anti-PD-1 therapy KEYTRUDA. In addition to ongoing clinical studies evaluating the KEYTRUDA plus LENVIMA combination across several different tumour types, the companies have jointly initiated new clinical studies through the LEAP (lenvatinib and pembrolizumab) clinical program and are evaluating the combination in more than 10 different tumour types across more than 20 clinical trials.


  1. KEYTRUDA Product Information. https://secure.healthlinks.net.au/content/msd/pi.cfm?product=mkpkeytr Accessed February 2022
  2. LENVIMA Product Information. https://www.ebs.tga.gov.au/ebs/picmi/picmirepository.nsf/pdf?OpenAgent&id=CP-2016-PI-01212-1 Accessed February 2022.
  3. QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute. Endometrial Cancer https://www.qimrberghofer.edu.au/our-research/cancer/endometrial-cancer/ Accessed February 2022
  4. Makker, V., Green, A.K., Wenham, R.M. et al. New therapies for advanced, recurrent, and metastatic endometrial cancers. gynaecol oncol res pract 4, 19 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40661-017-0056-7
  5. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).Gynaecological Cancers in Australia – An Overview. Accessed February 2022
  6. Australian Government. Cancer Australia. Uterine Cancer Statistics. https://www.canceraustralia.gov.au/cancer-types/uterine-cancer/statistics Accessed February 2022
  7. American Cancer Society. Endometrial Cancer.https://www.cancer.org/cancer/endometrial-cancer/about/key-statistics.html Accessed February 2022
  8. Onstad, Michaela A et al. “Addressing the Role of Obesity in Endometrial Cancer Risk, Prevention, and Treatment.” Journal of clinical oncology : official journal of the American Society of Clinical Oncology vol. 34,35 (2016): 4225-4230. doi:10.1200/JCO.2016.69.4638
  9. Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre. ACSC Factsheet Endometrial Cancer. https://www.petermac.org/sites/default/files/media-uploads/ACSC_FactSheet_EndometrialCancer.pdf Accessed February 2022
  10. Njoku, K. et al. 2020, Best Practice & Research Clinical Obstetrics & Gynaecology, ‘Endometrial cancer prevention in high-risk women’, vol. 65, pg. 66 – 78, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1521693419301816?via%3Dihub
  11. Australian Gynaecological Cancer Foundation. Uterine Cancers. https://agcf.org.au/endometrial-cancer/ Accessed February 2022
  12. LENVIMA Consumer Medicine Information.https://www.ebs.tga.gov.au/ebs/picmi/picmirepository.nsf/pdf?OpenAgent&id=CP-2016-CMI-01213-1 Accessed February 2022

Thousands of Australians at risk of progressing to severe COVID-19 disease1 will now be eligible to access an oral antiviral treatment taken over five days through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).2

MSD in Australia welcomes the Australian Government’s announcement that LAGEVRIO (molnupiravir) will be listed on the PBS from 1 March 2022 for eligible adults who test positive for COVID-19 and are at risk of developing severe disease requiring hospitalisation.2

The subsidy will be available to certain people who due to one or a combination of factors such as an existing medical condition, advancing age and other factors, and are deemed at-risk of severe disease, have not been hospitalised and do not require oxygen supplementation for confirmed
COVID-19.2

“Today’s announcement is a landmark moment in Australia’s response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mr Prashant Nikam, Vice President & Managing Director, MSD Australia & New Zealand.

“The PBS listing of LAGEVRIO will help ensure eligible Australians receive access to this oral treatment option in a timely and equitable manner,” he said.

“Sadly, COVID-19 has taken the lives of too many Australians. MSD is proud to have worked closely with the Australian Government to accelerate access to LAGEVRIO and provide an additional line of defence in the fight against COVID-19,” he said.

With more than 200,000 courses of LAGEVRIO already in Australia,3 doctors will be able to prescribe the oral treatment to eligible patients who can then have their prescription dispensed and pay $6.80 (Concession) or $42.50 (General Patients) from a community pharmacy.

Dr Paul Griffin, Infectious Disease Physician and Microbiologist at Mater Health, Brisbane described the PBS listing of LAGEVRIO as “great news”.

“Access to an oral treatment through the PBS will allow many at risk people to be treated at home, which is a win-win-win for these patients, the community and our hospital system,” he said.

“Taken twice daily for five days, LAGEVRIO is likely to play an important role in treating eligible, at risk patients diagnosed with COVID-19,” he said.

LAGEVRIO is taken twice daily for five days. It should be administered as soon as possible after a diagnosis of COVID-19 has been made and within five days of symptom onset in eligible adults.3

A positive COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test result or a verified rapid antigen test (RAT) result is required. Additionally, eligible adults will need to have at least one sign or symptom attributable to COVID-19, and not requiring oxygen or hospitalisation at the time of prescribing.4

Patients eligible to access LAGEVRIO through the PBS include:2

  • Patients 65 years or older with two additional high-risk factors* for developing severe disease
  • Patients 75 years or older with one additional high-risk factor* for developing severe disease
  • Moderately to severely immunocompromised people irrespective of vaccination status, and
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 years or older with two additional high-risk factors* for developing severe disease.

LAGEVRIO was provisionally registered by the Therapeutic Goods Administration on 18 January 2022.4 Since February, the treatment has been distributed through the National Medical Stockpile, with priority access provided to Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations, the Royal Flying Doctor Service and residential aged care facilities.

All medicines carry the risk of side-effects. In clinical trials, the most common adverse events associated with LAGEVRIO treatment were diarrhoea, nausea, and dizziness.4

About LAGEVRIO (molnupiravir)4 LAGEVRIO (molnupiravir) has provisional approval for the treatment of adults with COVID- 19 who do not require initiation of oxygen due to COVID-19 and who are at increased risk for hospitalisation or death [see Section 5.1 PHARMACODYNAMIC PROPERTIES – Clinical Trials]. The decision to approve this indication has been made on the basis of the analysis of efficacy and safety data from a Phase 3 trial. Continued approval of this indication depends on additional data.

LAGEVRIO Selected Safety Information4 PRECAUTIONS: Pregnancy Category D: The use of LAGEVRIO is not recommended during pregnancy. In women of childbearing potential, health care providers should discuss the chance that they may be pregnant and consider the need for a pregnancy test. Advise women of childbearing potential to use effective contraception for the duration of treatment and for 4 days after the last dose of LAGEVRIO. Sexually active men with a partner of childbearing potential should use contraception during and for 3 months after treatment. Based on animal data, LAGEVRIO may cause fetal harm when administered to pregnant women. Breastfeeding: Based on the potential for adverse reactions on the infant from LAGEVRIO, breastfeeding is not recommended during treatment and for 4 days after the last dose of LAGEVRIO. Paediatric patients: Use in children is not recommended. Use in elderly: No dose adjustment of LAGEVRIO is recommended based on age. In the MOVe-OUT study there was no difference in the safety and tolerability between patients >65 years of age and younger who were treated with LAGEVRIO. INTERACTIONS: No drug interactions have been identified based on the limited available data. CONTRAINDICATIONS: Hypersensitivity to the active substance or any of the excipients.

*Definitions of high-risk factors will be accessible at www.pbs.gov.au from 1 March 2022

From 1 March 2022: PBS Information: STREAMLINED authority required. Refer to the PBS Schedule for full authority information.

For more information on LAGEVRIO, consult a healthcare professional.

The Consumer Medicines Information leaflet is available from www.ebs.tga.gov.au/ebs/picmi/picmirepository.nsf/pdf?OpenAgent&id=CP-2022-CMI-01048-1


  1. Australian Government. Department of Health. Advice for groups at greater risk. https://www.health.gov.au/health-alerts/covid-19/advice-for-groups-at-risk Accessed February 2022
  2. Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. https://www.pbs.gov.au/info/news/2022/02/pbac-recommendation-for-molnupiravir-lagevrio-february Accessed February 2022
  3. LAGEVRIO Product Information. www.ebs.tga.gov.au/ebs/picmi/picmirepository.nsf/pdf?OpenAgent&id=CP-2022-PI-01047-1&d=20220221172310101 Accessed February 2022
  4. Australian Government Department of Health, Therapeutic Goods Administration. TGA provisionally approves two oral COVID-19 treatments, molnupiravir (LAGEVRIO) and nirmatrelvir + ritonavir (PAXLOVID). https://www.tga.gov.au/media-release/tga-provisionally-approves-two-oral-covid-19-treatments-molnupiravir-lagevrio-and-nirmatrelvir-ritonavir-paxlovid Accessed February 2022

Prashant Nikam has been appointed Managing Director of MSD Australia & New Zealand. In this role, Prashant will set the strategic direction for MSD in Australia & New Zealand with a focus on key growth areas of oncology and vaccines. His first priority is to meet with and listen to key stakeholders about how MSD can best serve their needs.   

“I am thrilled to be leading MSD in Australia and New Zealand and excited by the opportunity of working with our dedicated team to expand patient access to MSD’s medicines and vaccines,” said Mr Nikam.

“I am determined to work collaboratively with patients, clinicians, government and industry as we look to plot a path out of the COVID-19 pandemic which has reframed and reemphasised the importance of timely access to medicines and vaccines in Australia and New Zealand”.

“Together I am confident that we can continue to make a difference to the lives of patients by accelerating access times to life saving and life changing treatments. I look forward to engaging with and listening to patients and stakeholders about how MSD can best serve their needs into the future”.

Prior to his appointment, Prashant served as Vice President United States Oncology Marketing, with responsibility for MSD’s Lung Portfolio, Head and Neck, Skin Cancers, and Precision Medicine. Prashant also served as interim Head of Oncology for MSD in the US, where he was responsible for the end-to-end operations of MSD’s US Oncology business.

Prashant brings with him more than 19 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry, having held significant roles in oncology in the areas of Market Access, Health Outcomes, Global Commercial Strategy, and Marketing at a number of global companies including Novartis, Sanofi, and GSK.

Prashant is a pharmacist by training, and holds a PhD in Health Economics and Outcomes Research from The Ohio State University, and an MBA from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He is in the process of relocating to Australia with his wife and two children. In his spare time, he enjoys road cycling, and playing and watching cricket.

MSD Media contact: Ben Gommers, Mobile: 0408 660 740

MSD in Australia today announced that LAGEVRIO (molnupiravir) an oral antiviral treatment for adults with COVID-19 who do not require initiation of oxygen due to COVID-19 and who are at increased risk for hospitalisation or death, has received provisional approval by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.1

LAGEVRIO will be made available in non-hospitalised settings, in line with the provisional approval, to treat eligible Australian patients with COVID-19 who are at risk of hospitalisation or death.1

LAGEVRIO is an oral antiviral for the first-line treatment of COVID-19 in adults at risk of hospitalisation or death.1 The therapy works by inserting itself into the viral RNA of COVID-19. As a result, the virus can no longer reproduce.1

Dr Gary Jankelowitz, Medical Director, MSD Australia says, “The provisional approval of this oral antiviral treatment for COVID-19 in eligible at-risk adults is a regulatory milestone in the ongoing fight against COVID-19.”

He adds, “LAGEVRIO has the potential to help address a medical need in the community. MSD acknowledges the partnership and support of the Australian Government and the Minister for Health and Aged Care, Hon Greg Hunt MP, in making this treatment option available for eligible adults.”

In October 2021, the Australian Government entered into an agreement with MSD to secure 300,000 treatment courses of LAGEVRIO once provisionally approved. LAGEVRIO will be supplied to the National Medical Stockpile in accordance with the terms of the agreement between MSD and the Australian Government.  

Dr Paul Griffin, Infectious Disease Physician and Microbiologist at Mater Health, Brisbane, says “Taken twice daily for five days, access to this oral antiviral provides an additional option to Australia’s pandemic response. Importantly, this treatment allows the virus to be treated in community settings.”

He adds, “The availability of an oral treatment for eligible patients with mild-to-moderate disease will mean that patients will be able to be at home, and be actively treated. Vaccination is still the number one line of defence against COVID-19, but we need multiple defences against the virus, including treatments for those who are at high risk for progression to severe disease.”

LAGEVRIO should be administered as soon as possible after diagnosis of COVID-19 has been made and within 5 days of symptom onset in eligible adults. The provisional approval is based on the Phase 3 MOVe-OUT global trial, which evaluated LAGEVRIO compared to placebo in adult patients who were unvaccinated against SARS-CoV-2, had confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection no more than five days earlier, symptom onset within five days of study randomisation, and at least one risk factor associated with poor disease outcomes including age >60 years, obesity, diabetes, or cardiovascular disease.1,2

All medicines carry the risk of side-effects. In clinical trials, the most common adverse events associated with LAGEVRIO treatment were diarrhoea, nausea and dizziness.1

LAGEVRIO Selected Safety Information.1

PRECAUTIONS: Pregnancy Category D; The use of LAGEVRIO is not recommended during pregnancy and breastfeeding. In women of childbearing potential, health care providers should discuss the chance that they may be pregnant and consider the need for a pregnancy test. Advise women of childbearing potential to use effective contraception for the duration of treatment and for 4 days after the last dose of LAGEVRIO (molnupiravir). Sexually active men with a partner of childbearing potential should use contraception during and for 3 months after treatment. Based on animal data, LAGEVRIO may cause fetal harm when administered to pregnant women. Paediatric patients: Use in children is not recommended. Use in elderly: No dose adjustment of LAGEVRIO is recommended based on age. INTERACTIONS: No drug interactions have been identified based on the limited available data. CONTRAINDICATIONS: Hypersensitivity to the active substance or any of the excipients. ADVERSE REACTIONS. The most common adverse reactions occurring in ≥1% of subjects in the molnupiravir treatment group in the Phase 3 double-blind MOVe-OUT study were diarrhoea (2% versus placebo at 2%), nausea (1% versus placebo at 1%), and dizziness (1% versus placebo at 1%) all of which were Grade 1 (mild) or Grade 2 (moderate). Serious adverse events occurred in 7% of subjects receiving molnupiravir and 10% receiving placebo; most serious adverse events were COVID-19 related. Adverse events leading to death occurred in 2 (<1%) of the subjects receiving molnupiravir and 12 (2%) of subjects receiving placebo.

In October 2021, the Australian Government entered into an agreement with MSD to secure 300,000 treatment courses of LAGEVRIO once provisionally approved. The Australian Government will determine access to LAGEVRIO for eligible adults.

For more information on LAGEVRIO, consult a healthcare professional. The Consumer Medicines Information leaflet is available online.

LAGEVRIO has received provisional approval. The decision to approve this indication has been made on the basis of the analysis of efficacy and safety data from a Phase 3 trial. Continued approval of this indication depends on additional data.

B-roll and photography relating to molnupiravir are available at:
https://www.msd.com/media/our-investigational-covid-19-antiviral/

Copyright © 2022 Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, NJ, USA, and its affiliates. All rights reserved. Merck Sharp & Dohme (Australia) Pty Limited. Level 1, Building A, 26 Talavera Road, Macquarie Park NSW 2113. AU-ANV-00053. Issued 20 January 2022.


  1. LAGEVRIO PI. January 2022
  2. Jayk Bernal A, Gomes da Silva MM, Musungaie DB, et al. Molnupiravir for oral treatment of Covid-19 in nonhospitalized patients. N Engl J Med. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa2116044.

In Australia 40% of people diagnosed with cancer will be of working age.1 A cancer diagnosis may disrupt a person’s ability to actively participate in the workforce – which has an economic impact on the individual and the economy.1

Immuno-oncology medicines are emerging as a first-line treatment for several advanced cancers2,3 – and whilst they have been extensively studied for survival outcomes compared to the standard of care (e.g., chemotherapy),3 a new analysis shows they could also play a significant role in Australia’s society and the economy.4

The Health Impact Projection (HIP) 2.0 analysis, commissioned by MSD, estimated the benefit derived from helping patients stay in the workplace, stay out of hospital, and contributing to their communities and the economy.4

The analysis shows that if immuno-oncology therapies were used for all eligible patients across eight tumour types in 2021-2025, these therapies could help patients work an additional 20 million hours.5 This is the equivalent of 2,385 people working full-time for 5 years (35 hours per week, 48 weeks per year).* This could result in a $1.4 billion rise in patient productivity, or nearly $23,000 per patient.4

Combined with other factors, this could lead to more than $40 million in additional economic contributionsincluding lower out-of-pocket costs for patients by $28 million or 7.5%, and lower end-of-life costs by about $13,000 a year per patient.4

Additionally, HIP 2.0 revealed that if immuno-oncology therapies were used for all eligible patients in eight tumour types in 2021-2025, these therapies could add close to 48,000 life years for these Australian cancer patients – an increase of 37%; and add nearly 37,000 progression-free survival years, the time a patient lives with a cancer that doesn’t get worse – an increase of 63%.4

“This modelling shows immuno-oncology medicines have the potential to impact beyond improving survival – helping some patients return to work and community life. This in turn leads to considerable incremental societal and economic benefits,” said Dr Christopher Steer, medical oncologist at Border Medical Oncology at the Albury Wodonga Regional Cancer Centre in regional NSW, Australia.

Currently, the government invests 0.32% of total health expenditure on immuno-oncology therapies.4 While HIP 2.0 show the cost to government for funding immuno-oncology therapies are higher than for other cancer treatments, it is important to recognise the broader economic benefits and returns that access to these medicines would provide.

About HIP 2.0. Health Impact Projection 2.0 Australia (HIP 2.0) models the health outcomes of immuno-oncology therapies in cancer care in Australia. It was based on a projected 95,945 patients treated with anti-PD-1P/PD-L1immuno-oncology medicine over five years (2021–2025) for different cancers (adjuvant melanoma, metastatic melanoma, non-small cell lung cancer, metastatic triple-negative breast cancer, head and neck, urothelial carcinoma, renal cell cancer, endometrial cancer, and oesophageal cancer). The analysis concluded that the amount of time for immuno-oncology medicines to receive national reimbursement has a significant impact on health outcomes for Australian patients and highlighted the importance of policy work to provide faster access to these cancer treatments. 

*Based on full-time work = 35 hour per week x 48 weeks per annum (1,680 hours p.a.), over 2021-25 period. (20,038,202 hours/1,680/5 = 2,385)

-ENDS-

Notes to editor: Dr Christopher Steer is a medical oncologist at Border Medical Oncology at the Albury Wodonga Regional Cancer Centre in regional NSW, Australia. He has been involved in clinical trials sponsored by MSD. He has received honoraria as a member of advisory boards for MSD. In relation to this media announcement, no compensation was provided to Dr Christopher Steer and the opinions expressed are his own. Outside his clinical role Dr Steer is involved in various medical organisations including the Medical Oncology Group of Australia Incorporated, Cancer Drugs Alliance and is President of the Private Cancer Physicians of Australia organisation.

About MSD. For more than 125 years, MSD has been inventing for life, bringing forward medicines and vaccines for many of the world’s most challenging diseases in pursuit of our mission to save and improve lives. MSD is a trade name of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, N.J., U.S.A. We demonstrate our commitment to patients and population health by increasing access to health care through far-reaching policies, programs, and partnerships. Today, MSD continues to be at the forefront of research to prevent and treat diseases that threaten people and animals – including cancer, infectious diseases such as HIV and Ebola, and emerging animal diseases – as we aspire to be the premier research-intensive biopharmaceutical company in the world. For more information, visit www.msd-australia.com.au and connect with us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Copyright © 2021 Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, NJ, USA, and its affiliates. All rights reserved. Merck Sharp & Dohme (Australia) Pty Limited. Level 1, Building A, 26 Talavera Road, Macquarie Park NSW 2113. First issued November 2021. AU-NON-00470.

References

  1. Bates, N., Callander, E., Lindsay, D. et al. Labour force participation and the cost of lost productivity due to cancer in Australia. BMC Public Health 18, 375 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-018-5297-9
  2. Robert, C. A decade of immune-checkpoint inhibitors in cancer therapy. Nat Commun. 11, 3801 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-17670-y
  3. Kaufman, H.L., Atkins, M.B., Subedi, P. et al. The promise of Immuno-oncology: implications for defining the value of cancer treatment. j. immunotherapy cancer 7, 129 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40425-019-0594-0
  4. Health Impact Projection 2.0 Australia. Adelphi Values & PROVE. August 2021. MSD Australia.
  5. Health Impact Projection 2.0 Australia. Adelphi Values & PROVE. August 2021. Abstract COSA 2021. MSD Australia.

Immuno-oncology therapy KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab) has been listed on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG) for the first-line treatment for certain eligible patients with locally advanced or metastatic carcinoma of the oesophagus or HER-2-negative gastroesophageal junction adenocarcinoma, when used in combination with certain chemotherapy agents.1

This treatment will be an option for approximately 700 eligible oesophageal patients per year2 and will be evaluated for the first time at the upcoming Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) meeting early November 2021.3 The PBAC and Medical Services Advisory Committee (MSAC)4 will also again be evaluating KEYTRUDA for eligible patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck at their November 2021 meetings.3,4

Treatment options are urgently needed for patients with this rare cancer.5,6,7 Early oesophageal cancer can present with non-specific or no symptoms. As a result, patients are often diagnosed at advanced stages when treatment options are limited.8

“Oesophageal cancer is a rare disease. Patients with non-curable locally advanced or metastatic oesophageal cancer have an extremely poor prognosis, and there remains a significant unmet medical need for Australians with this diagnosis,” said Associate Professor Mark Wong, Medical Oncologist and Honorary Clinical Associate Professor Macquarie University.

“Minimal progress in treatments for advanced oesophageal cancer over the past 30 years, has left patients with this aggressive cancer, limited treatment options. I believe people need and deserve to have all the treatment options available to them to manage an oesophageal cancer diagnosis,” he added.

Oesophageal cancer, defined as cancer which forms in the tissues lining the oesophageal tube which runs from the throat to the stomach5, can have a significant impact on quality of life6. Males are more than twice as likely as females to be diagnosed with the disease.5,9 In 2020, an estimated 1,587 Australians were diagnosed with oesophageal cancer, claiming 1,351 lives.10

“For patients and their families this news is incredibly hopeful. The treatment options available currently for oesophageal cancer are very limited, which is disheartening for patients at a time that is already difficult. We welcome any new therapy that provides patients greater choice regarding treatment,” said Doug Hawkins, CEO of Pancare Foundation – an Australian not-for-profit supporting patient with upper gastrointestinal cancers and their families.

“However, to provide the greatest impact, it must be made affordable as to not disadvantage already vulnerable patients. We want to see equitable access for therapies for all Australians living with oesophageal cancer. This would remove the disparity between those with the financial means to access therapies and those who cannot,” he added.

KEYTRUDA is a cancer immunotherapy that works to reactivate the immune system to attack tumour cells by blocking a cancer cell protein (known as programmed death receptor 1 or PD-1) which left unchecked allows cancer cells to pass undetected by the body’s natural defences.1

“This medicine is listed on the ARTG under ‘orphan status’, which recognises this treatment is for patients with a life-threatening or seriously debilitating condition, affecting a small patient population,” says Gary Jankelowitz, Medical Director, Australia and New Zealand.

About KEYTRUDA

Oesophageal cancer indication: KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab), in combination with platinum and fluoropyrimidine based chemotherapy, is indicated for the first-line treatment of patients with locally advanced or metastatic carcinoma of the oesophagus or HER2 negative gastroesophageal junction adenocarcinoma (tumour centre 1 to 5 centimetres above the gastroesophageal junction) that is not amenable to surgical resection or definitive chemoradiation.1

KEYTRUDA SELECTED SAFETY INFORMATION1

Precautions: Immune-mediated adverse reactions, including severe and fatal cases, have occurred in patients receiving KEYTRUDA. These have included, but not limited to: pneumonitis, colitis, hepatitis, hepatoxicity (in combination with axitinib), nephritis, endocrinopathies (adrenal insufficiency, hypophysitis, type 1 diabetes mellitus, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, thyroiditis), uveitis, myositis, Guillain-Barre syndrome, myasthenic syndrome/myasthenia gravis (incl. exacerbation), myelitis, vasculitis, pancreatitis, sarcoidosis, encephalitis, myocarditis, pericarditis and pericardial effusion, peripheral neuropathy, sclerosing cholangitis, solid organ transplant rejection, severe skin reactions (SJS, TEN and bullous pemphigoid), severe infusion reactions (hypersensitivity, anaphylaxis) and complications of allogeneic HSCT. Monitor thyroid and liver function.

Immune-related adverse reactions have occurred after discontinuation of treatment with KEYTRUDA, can affect more than one body system and can occur simultaneously.

Adverse events: In patients with oesophageal cancer, adverse reactions occurring in at least 20% of patients and at a higher incidence (≥2%) of Grades 3-5 severity for KEYTRUDA in combination with chemotherapy (cisplatin and 5-FU) compared to placebo and chemotherapy (cisplatin and 5-FU) were: vomiting (7% vs. 5%), stomatitis (6% vs. 3.8%), neutrophil count decreased (24.1% vs 17.3%), and white blood cell count decreased (9.2% vs. 4.9%).

For further information, refer to the full Product Information: Approved September 2021.

Refer to the Consumer Medical Information leaflet, available at or your doctor or pharmacist for further information about KEYTRUDA.

PBS information: This product is not listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) for oesophageal cancer or head and neck cancer. For more information on other listings, go to www.pbs.gov.au

-ENDS-

Media Contacts:

Alexandra Ploskov,
Senior Communications Manager

+61 477 694 697

alexandra.ploskov@msd.com

About MSD

For more than 125 years, MSD has been inventing for life, bringing forward medicines and vaccines for many of the world’s most challenging diseases in pursuit of our mission to save and improve lives. MSD is a trade name of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, N.J., U.S.A. We demonstrate our commitment to patients and population health by increasing access to health care through far-reaching policies, programs, and partnerships. Today, MSD continues to be at the forefront of research to prevent and treat diseases that threaten people and animals – including cancer, infectious diseases such as HIV and Ebola, and emerging animal diseases – as we aspire to be the premier research-intensive biopharmaceutical company in the world. For more information, visit www.msd-australia.com.au and connect with us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Copyright © 2021 Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, NJ, USA, and its affiliates. All rights reserved. Merck Sharp & Dohme (Australia) Pty Limited. Level 1, Building A, 26 Talavera Road, Macquarie Park NSW 2113. AU-PDO-00132. Issued October 2021.

References

1 KEYTRUDA Product Information. 23 September 2021. Accessed October 2021
2 MSD Data on file
3 PBAC Agenda November 2021 Accessed October 2021
4 MSAC Agenda. Accessed October 2021.
5 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). Accessed October 2021
6 Yang, YM., Hong, P., Xu, W.W. et al. Advances in targeted therapy for esophageal cancer. Sig Transduct Target Ther 5, 229 (2020).
7 Laursen et. al, (2019), ‘Table in the corner: a qualitative study of life situation and perspectives of the everyday lives of oesophageal cancer patients in palliative care’, BMC Palliative Care, (18:60)
8 QIMR Berghofer. Accessed October 2021
9 GI Cancer Australia. Accessed October 2021
10 Australian Government. Cancer Australia. Oesophageal Cancer. Accessed October 2021

MSD Australia has today welcomed the signing of a new Medicines Strategic Agreement between Medicines Australia and the Australian Government.

The new Medicines Strategic Agreement in relation to reimbursement, health technology assessment and other matters, will commence on 1 July 2022, and sets in place an ambitious reform agenda aimed at improving patient access to new and innovative medicines in Australia.

Michael Azrak, Managing Director & Vice President, MSD Australia and New Zealand, and Medicines Australia Board Director, endorsed the new Strategic Agreement and commended Medicines Australia and the Australian Government on securing this landmark agreement.  

“The new Strategic Agreement places the patient at centre of the decision-making process for accessing new medicines in Australia and is an important step to improving health outcomes for all Australians.

“MSD believes that patients should be able to access new medicines on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) within 90 days of registration by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). The independent review of Health Technology Assessment, committed to in the Agreement, the first in almost 30 years, has the potential to accelerate patient access to new medicines in Australia in line with this ambition.

“The new Agreement also recognises the critical role that the innovative medicines sector plays in providing Australians with life-changing and life-extending medicines. It is important that technology advancements brought forward by the innovative medicines sector are appropriately valued and recognised.”

Michael Azrak, MSD Managing Director, Australia & New Zealand

MSD acknowledges the leadership of the Minister for Health & Aged Care, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, and the collaboration between Medicines Australia and the Australian Department of Health in securing an agreement that places the patient at the centre, secures meaningful policy reform opportunities and strengthens the PBS.

-ENDS-

Media Contacts:

Alexandra Ploskov,
Senior Communications Manager

+61 477 694 697

alexandra.ploskov@msd.com

About MSD

For more than 125 years, MSD has been inventing for life, bringing forward medicines and vaccines for many of the world’s most challenging diseases in pursuit of our mission to save and improve lives. MSD is a trade name of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, N.J., U.S.A. We demonstrate our commitment to patients and population health by increasing access to health care through far-reaching policies, programs, and partnerships. Today, MSD continues to be at the forefront of research to prevent and treat diseases that threaten people and animals – including cancer, infectious diseases such as HIV and Ebola, and emerging animal diseases – as we aspire to be the premier research-intensive biopharmaceutical company in the world. For more information, visit www.msd-australia.com.au and connect with us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Copyright © 2021 Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, NJ, USA, and its affiliates. All rights reserved. Merck Sharp & Dohme (Australia) Pty Limited. Level 1, Building A, 26 Talavera Road, Macquarie Park NSW 2113. First Issued 7 September 2021.