Taxotere® (docetaxel) is the only therapy proven to extend and improve quality of life for men with late stage prostate cancer, a disease which claims the lives of more than 2,900 Australian men each year.
In fact, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in Australian men, and the second leading cause of male cancer deaths annually.
Internationally renowned as the ‘gold standard’ for treating late stage prostate cancer, Taxotere required Government funding on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
opr Health was hired by sanofi-aventis in Australia to help manage public relations for the prostate cancer chemotherapy Taxotere, including media management, political advocacy, third party and stakeholder relations.
Our objective was to achieve a positive recommendation by the Government’s expert advisory committee to list Taxotere on the PBS and an expedited Cabinet approval.
The Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) which assesses the efficacy of drugs had twice rejected Taxotere for prostate cancer on the basis of cost effectiveness.
Taxotere was already listed on the PBS to treat breast, ovarian and non-small cell lung cancer.
Faced with the prospect of a third rejection, opr Health needed a fresh angle to persuade Government decision makers about the need to fund this important therapy.
Anecdotally we knew men were poor advocates for their own health.
Our creative approach was to leverage women who were concerned about their male partner’s health to lobby the Government in favour of listing Taxotere on the PBS. OPRH selected women of influence and public profile women to lobby the government.
The campaign involved commissioning Newspoll to find out if our insight was correct and that men were poor advocates for their own health.
The results borne this out showing in a majority of cases men only visited the doctor after being encouraged to do so by a wife, partner or sister
Armed with this knowledge we set about ensuring women of influence and public profile were briefed on the issue and able to lobby the Government in favour of listing Taxotere on the PBS.
In July 2007 the PBAC recommended Taxotere be listed on the PBS for men with late stage prostate cancer. Then to coincide with the PCFA Father’s Day 5 fun run the Minister for Health Tony Abbott announced Taxotere would be listed on the PBS from 1 November 2007.
The decision means an additional 1,200 men will have access to Taxotere in the first year of listing, and will no longer have to pay up to $18,000 for a course of treatment.