Blood cancers

New drugs for blood cancers get approval for PBS listing


The Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) has approved a PBS listing for ralatrexate (Folotyn) for the treatment of Peripheral T-Cell Lymphoma.

At its November 2017 meeting the PBAC supported a request from MundiPharma for a Section 100 listing for the treatment of patients who are refractory to, or have relapsed following, first line chemotherapy.

The decision follows a similar one for pembrolizumab (Keytruda) which was given a positive recommendation by the PBAC to be PBS listed for patients with relapsed/refractory Classical Hodgkin Lymphoma.

The committee also recommended easing biopsy requirements for use of brentuximab vedotin (Adcetris) in patients with CD30 positive systemic anaplastic large cell lymphoma (sALCL).

The PBAC recommended the removal of the phrase relating to the timing of the biopsy subsequent to the most recently delivered prior treatment from the brentuximab vedotin initial treatment restriction.

“In making its decision, the PBAC considered that this criterion was no longer required as CD30+ status is typically constant over the course of the disease, and that patients would benefit if a repeat biopsy was not clinically indicated,” it said

Meanwhile, ibrutinib (Imbruvica) became available on the PBS on the 1 December for patients with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia (CLL) or Small Lymphocytic Lymphoma (SLL) in whom the disease has progressed despite treatment with standard therapies.

The listing was welcomed by Bill Petch, CEO at the Leukaemia Foundation who said there was the additional advantage of the drug being an oral drug, without the need for intense hospital treatment.

“It means that Australians with CLL who have run out of treatment options can access this new oral therapy which is showing remarkable results. We are another step closer to a time when no one will die from this disease,” he said.

Mr Petch said the Leukaemia Foundation was offering  programs to support patients with CLL in the community to make adjustments to their lifestyle and to maintain adherence to the drug regimen.

An additional PBS listing for ibrutinib as first line treatment in patients with CLL  or SLL is to be considered by the PBAC at its  March 2018  meeting.

The committee will also decide on a request for PBS listing of obinutuzumab (Gazyva) for untreated patients with Stage II bulky or Stage III/IV CD20 positive follicular lymphoma or rituximab-refractory follicular lymphoma

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