Blood cancers

Lenalidomide now available on PBS for MM maintenance therapy

PBS listing of lenalidomide (Revlimid) as maintenance treatment for patients with multiple myeloma has been welcomed after a “frustratingly long” approvals process.

Lenalidomide represents Australia’s first and only maintenance treatment specifically indicated and reimbursed for patients newly diagnosed with multiple myeloma (NDMM) who have undergone an autologous stem cell transplant (ASCT).

It is already available as a frontline therapy for transplant-ineligible patients.

Haematologist Professor Miles Prince, from the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and director of Cancer Immunology and Molecular Oncology at Epworth Healthcare, told the limbic the evidence that lenalidomide could improve progression-free survival had been available for three years.

“This represents almost half the median survival of patients with myeloma,” he also wrote in an article just published in MJA Insight.

“For survival rates to continue to improve however, patients must receive timely access to the most effective treatments,” he wrote.

“The PBS listing of maintenance for multiple myeloma will provide newly diagnosed patients with an additional treatment option for their disease.”

Professor Miles Prince said lenalidomide was much better tolerated than thalidomide, which had major toxicities leading to many patients coming off the drug within seven months.

He added that the optimal duration of post-ASCT maintenance treatment had yet to be addressed.

Myeloma Australia CEO, Steve Roach, also welcomed the availability of a new treatment option for multiple myeloma.

“Additional treatment options are required throughout the patient journey, for both the newly diagnosed, and those who have already commenced therapy. Although incurable, we hope that multiple myeloma will one day be treated as a chronic, rather than a terminal disease,” Mr Roach said.

A spokesperson for pharmaceutical company Celgene said the drug had simultaneously been listed on Australia’s PBS and New Zealand’s Pharmaceutical Management Agency (PHARMAC).

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