PBS funding for relapsed mantle cell
lymphoma from the 1st of August
The Federal Minister for Health announced that from 1 August 2018, IMBRUVICA® (ibrutinib) will become the first medicine available through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) for Australians with Mantle Cell Lymphoma (MCL) whose condition progresses after initial chemotherapy-based treatment*.
The new subsidy will make treatment with IMBRUVICA affordable for hundreds of Australians each year with relapsed or refractory MCL, who face an average survival of only one-to-two years.1
MCL is a rare and aggressive type of lymphoma that typically begins in the immune system’s disease-fighting lymph nodes5 (around the neck, armpits and groin) but can spread to other tissues such as the bone marrow, liver, spleen, gastrointestinal tract and even the spine and brain.6
Associate Professor Constantine Tam, Disease Group Lead, Low Grade Lymphoma & CLL at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and Director of Haematology at St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne, and one of the doctors involved in clinical trials of IMBRUVICA, welcomed the new subsidy noting that, unlike many other forms of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, MCL has a very poor prognosis.
“MCL is both aggressive and incurable, meaning that even if you manage to achieve remission, the vast majority of patients will relapse,” explained Dr Tam.
“Most types of cancers I treat are either aggressive but potentially curable, or incurable but not aggressive. There is a clear and present need for affordable access to treatment for MCL patients for whom chemotherapy has stopped working,” 1 he said.
“Until now, there has been no standard of care for these patients.1This PBS listing provides a new treatment option, which allows us to keep fighting the cancer when chemotherapy stops working.”
IMBRUVICA works by blocking a protein in the body that helps cancer cells live and grow. This protein is called Bruton’s tyrosine kinase. Blocking this protein may help kill and reduce the number of cancer cells and also slow the spread of the disease.
Sharon Winton, CEO of Lymphoma Australia, said the PBS listing of IMBRUVICA for MCL was “great news for hundreds of Australians with limited treatment options”.
“Many Australians with this aggressive form of lymphoma have been waiting for a viable new treatment option,” she said.
“This medicine has been studied extensively, both here in Australia and overseas, and we are delighted that it will become more accessible to patients with MCL. Minister Hunt is to be commended for ensuring there was no delay in acting upon the experts’ advice and making IMBRUVICA available on the PBS for MCL patients,” she added.
Mr Bruce Goodwin, Managing Director, Janssen Australia and New Zealand (Janssen-Cilag Pty Limited), also commended the Turnbull Government on its significant investment in extending the PBS listing of IMBRUVICA to now include the treatment of patients with relapsed or refractory MCL.
“This is an important moment in the treatment of mantle cell lymphoma. We are pleased to support the Federal Government’s efforts to address this area of serious medical need and will continue to work with them, as well as doctors and healthcare organisations, to improve the treatment of blood cancers in Australia,” Mr Goodwin said.
IMBRUVICA was made available on the PBS in 2017 for patients with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) or small lymphocytic leukaemia (SLL) who are relapsed or refractory to at least one prior therapy and who are unsuitable for treatment with fludarabine. It will now become available on the PBS on 1 August 2018 for patients with MCL who are relapsed or refractory to at least one prior therapy.