Compassionate supply is a pathway to subsidised access of novel oncology drugs in Australia prior to regulatory approval or government reimbursement. This pathway can be provided through a formal arrangement called a Compassionate Access Program (CAP), or on a case-by-case basis.
The aim of this project is to describe the compassionate supply of oncology drugs within the South Eastern Sydney Local Health District (SESLHD) in 2011-2015. Data was collected from three sources: oncology drug sponsors, hospital records and prescribing medical oncologists.
39 unique oncology drugs were identified from hospital records and medical oncologists. This constituted 176 cases, encompassing at least sixteen different types of cancer (classified by primary site). In the majority of cases, the oncology drug was provided for free (69%), and for less than 12 months in duration (81%). From a sample of 10 medical oncologists from two SESLHD hospitals, the majority reported use of a CAP in 2011-2015 (90%), and increasing use of CAPs in 2011-2015 (80%). The participation rate from oncology drug sponsors was low (21%), limiting findings from this source.
This is the first research on compassionate supply in Australia that looks at multiple sources. No one source identified the entire range of drugs (n = 42) that was identified, which could indicate that a combination of sources should be used to describe compassionate supply. Conversely, this could point to limited utility of certain information sources, or limitations in the methodology.