Blood cancers

PBS eases access to bortezomib for MM patients during COVID-19 pandemic


The PBS has temporarily suspended its limit on the maximum cycles of treatment (4) with bortezomib (Velcade) for newly diagnosed patients with multiple myeloma who are eligible for high dose chemotherapy and autologous stem cell transplant.

The move to ease restriction on bortezomib induction treatment is to ensure that patients whose transplant might be delayed during the COVID-19 pandemic have continuity of therapy.

The Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) recommended extending the PBS access to bortezomib in response to a request from in response to a request from Professor Miles Prince, chair of the Myeloma Australia’s Medical and Scientific Advisory Group (MSAG).

In a statement, Myeloma Australia said it welcomed the move at a time when the increased risk of serious infection due to COVID-19, means it may not safe or feasible to proceed with planned stem cell transplants.

The PBS said the lifting of the cap had been as a temporary measure.

“At this time these changes are intended to only be applicable for up to six months, with the maximum of four cycles per treatment reinstated following the conclusion of the current COVID-19 measures.

“Prescribers will be able to apply the new restrictions on the PBS from 1 April 2020.  Up to 40 patients per month are expected to benefit from this change.”

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