Federal Health Minister Tanya Plibersek says drugs to treat skin cancer, as well as the controversial abortion pill RU486, will be listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
Speaking at Cancer Australia yesterday, she said the taxpayer-funded PBS would also include a drug to treat prostate cancer and a new-generation oral anticoagulant medicine for the prevention of strokes.
Ms Plibersek said Australian women had had limited access to the drugs mifepristone and misoprostol, which are used in combination to terminate a pregnancy of up to seven weeks' gestation.
"By offering this different option at a very difficult time in a woman's life, I hope that we are giving more choice in what are often extraordinarily difficult circumstances," the minister said.
She added that scores of millions of women in more than 40 countries had access to the abortion drugs for several years.
The expansion of medical terminations would prove "particularly important" to women living in rural and regional Australia, who had to travel long distances and be away from family and friends to undergo surgery, she said.
Cancer drugs due for inclusion on the PBS from August offered hope for patients who previously could not afford the costly treatments, Ms Plibersek said.
Skin cancer drug ipilimumab cost $110,000 a year for private patients but on the PBS came within the reach of more than 100,000 people.
Late-stage prostate cancer drug abiraterone and breast cancer medication vinorelbine were also additions to the PBS, at a cost to taxpayers of $430 million over the next four years.
"If we didn't subsidise these medicines through the PBS, they would be out of the reach of most Australians," Ms Plibersek said.
The government would also put up $450 million for the inclusion of anti-stroke medication rivaroxaban.