News in brief: ATAGI says COVID-19 vax booster doses needed for immunocompromised patients; First topical treatment approved for MF-type CTCL; Australian haemophilia annual meeting

COVID-19 vax booster doses needed for some patients: ATAGI

A third COVID-19 vaccine booster dose will soon be recommended for some Australians with immunocompromising conditions, according to the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI).

In advice released on 23 September, ATAGI said it anticipated that “a relatively small cohort of individuals, such as those with severely immunocompromising conditions, are likely to require a third dose as part of their primary course of vaccination to ensure optimal vaccine effectiveness.”

ATAGI added that boosters for other populations may be required in the future, and it was preparing recommendations to be released in the next few weeks.

Factors to be considered in recommendations for boosters include the duration of protection provided by additional doses, timing of booster doses to cover anticipated future peaks and the balance of efficacy and safety of third doses of mRNA vaccines, it said. ATAGI is also reviewing the types of vaccine to be used as boosters and the potential for newer  types such as the protein subunit vaccines variant vaccines as they become available.

In the meantime it said first and second dose coverage remained a priority for achieving protection in the current Delta outbreak.

First topical treatment approved for MF-type CTCL

The TGA has licensed chlormethine hydrochloride (Ledaga) as the first approved topical treatment of mycosis fungoidestype cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (MF-type CTCL) in adult patients.

The product, distributed by Recordati Rare Diseases Australia Pty Ltd, was approved by the TGA noting that systemically administered products are approved and available but are mainly reserved for patients who are refractory to topical treatment or show signs of progression with the rare form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that affects the skin, causing itchy and painful red patches or lesions.

According to the product information, some prescribers have until now used unapproved topical products such as carmustine compounded extemporaneously in pharmacies in a non-standardised manner. Chlormethine hydrochloride has been shown to improve the condition of skin lesions caused by early-stage MF-CTCL and may be ‘especially beneficial’ for the treatment of lesions covering limited areas of the body and for patients who are unsuitable for the current standard treatment, phototherapy.

Australian haemophilia annual meeting

The 20th Australian Conference on Haemophilia, VWD and Rare Bleeding Disorders is only a week away, with a virtual program set to run from Friday 8 to Saturday 9 October

The theme for the 2021 meeting is Embracing a Changing World and it will be chaired by Dr Ritam Prasad, Haematology Treatment Centre Director, Calvary Mater Newcastle, NSW and Suzanne O’Callaghan, Haemophilia Foundation Australia (HFA) Policy Research and Education Manager.

Invited speakers include international experts such as Professor Mike Makris, Honorary Consultant Haematologist at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, NHS Trust, UK who will discuss where treatment and care is heading over the next few years.

Professor David Lillicrap from the Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine at Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada will talk about innovations in the treatment of bleeding disorders and novel therapies.

Other presenters will tackle subject such as use of physiotherapy in managing pain in haemophilia and a discussion of musculoskeletal problems and exercise.


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