News in brief: New leader announced for Diabetes Australia; TGA approves biologic X-linked hypophosphataemia therapy; Healthcare staff vaccination reduces COVID-19 transmission

Tuesday, 14 Sep 2021


New leader announced for Diabetes Australia

Justine Cain will take up the appointment as Group CEO of Diabetes Australia on 22 November, it has been announced.

Ms Cain, who has previous executive level appointments in healthcare organisations such as Medibank and the Childrens Starlight Foundation, will take over from Professor Greg Johnson who will step down from his role with Diabetes Australia after the 2021 AGM, according to Craig Bennett, CEO of Diabetes Victoria.

“All of us at Diabetes Victoria are looking forward to working with Justine, as well as celebrating the significant contribution made by Greg Johnson to the cause of diabetes over many years,” he said.

The change in leadership takes place as Diabetes Australia prepares for a merger with groups such as the Australian Diabetes Society and Australian Diabetes Educators Association, as well as Diabetes NSW & ACT, Diabetes Queensland and Diabetes Tasmania.


TGA approves biologic X-linked hypophosphataemia therapy

Clinicians can now add burosumab (Crystiva) to their list of TGA-approved X-linked hypophosphataemia (XLH) therapies.

Indicated for XLH patients aged one year and over, the fibroblast growth factor 23 (FGF23) inhibitor is the first medicine to treat the disease’s underlying cause in children and adults, according to manufacturer Kyowa Kirin Australia.

FGF23 is over-produced in XLH, causing excessive phosphate loss through urine and poor gut absorption and resulting in chronically low blood phosphate levels.

Neutralising the protein with burosumab increases renal phosphate reabsorption and serum concentration of active vitamin D, Kyowa Kirin Australia wrote in a media statement.

“The registration of Crystiva is a major milestone for our company, but our focus remains firmly on securing PBS reimbursement so that Australians living with XLH can be guaranteed long-term affordable access to this important medicine,” Kyowa Kirin Australia General Manager Mr Simon Dawson said in the statement.

The PBAC previously rejected Kyowa Kirin Australia’s application for paediatric access, stating that “there were complex issues relating to the clinical evidence presented and the proposed restriction”, “the incremental cost effectiveness ratio was high and likely underestimated” and “the financial estimates were highly uncertain”.

Patients who accessed the drug on compassionate grounds can continue to do so “while a feasible long-term access solution is sought”, Mr Dawson said.


Healthcare staff vaccination reduces COVID-19 transmission

In findings described reassuring for healthcare workers and their families, a UK study has provided evidence suggesting that COVID-19 vaccination of healthcare staff reduces transmission within their household.

Researchers in the UK evaluated data from almost 200,000 household members of 144,525 health care workers in Scotland who worked from March to November 2020.

At the time of the study, 78% of healthcare workers had received at least one dose of either Pfizer or the AstraZeneca vaccine, and 25% had received a second dose.

The analysis found that risk of COVID-19 among household members of vaccinated health care workers was 30% lower (Hazard Ratio 0.70) after the first dose and more than 50% lower (HR 0.46) after the second dose of vaccine.

The effect of vaccination may have been larger because the analysis did not cover risk of transmission from sources outside the household, the researchers wrote in NEJM.

“Given that vaccination reduces asymptomatic infection with SARS-CoV-2, it is plausible that vaccination reduces transmission,” said the researchers led by Dr Anoop Shah of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

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