News in brief: Extended PBS listing for pembrolizumab; 3 oncologists join COSA board; Mandatory vaccination call for all hospital staff

Thursday, 22 Jul 2021

Extended PBS listing for pembrolizumab

Pembrolizumab (Keytruda) will be available on the PBS for first-line treatment of patients with unresectable or metastatic mismatch repair deficient (dMMR) colorectal cancer.

The decision to expand the list of indications for the checkpoint inhibitor was made at the March 2021 PBAC meeting.

“The PBAC considered a revision to the time horizon used in the economic model was required to account for the uncertain gain in overall survival, and that with the revised model pembrolizumab would be cost effective with an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio closer to what was presented as the base case in the submission.”

“The PBAC considered a risk sharing arrangement was required to manage the uncertainty associated with the overall cost to the PBS.”

The PBS listing effective from 1 August has been welcomed by clinicians and consumer organisations such as Bowel Cancer Australia.

3 oncologists elected to COSA board

Three medical oncologists have been elected to the board of the Clinical Oncology Society of Austaalia (COSA)

They are: Dr Malinda Itchins, Thoracic Medical Oncologist, Royal North Shore Hospital, Sydney; Professor Michael Jefford, Medical Oncologist, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne and Dr Christopher Steer, Medical Oncologist, Border Medical Oncology and Haematology, Albury Wodonga.

They join existing board members Professor Tim Price of the University of Adelaide and Professor Sabe Sabesan Director, Medical Oncology, Townsville Cancer Centre. Professor Fran Boyle AM remains COSA President and Associate Professor Dion Forstner is president elect.

Mandatory vaccination call for all hospital staff

The Morrison government is being urged to make vaccinations compulsory for all hospital staff across Australia and have a roll out plan to provide vaccine every hospital worker.

The peak body representing Catholic not-for-profit hospitals, Catholic Health Australia (CHA), says the Federal government already has a mandatory vaccination scheme for aged care and should put in place a similar scheme for all hospital staff across Australia, public and private.

CHA says its hospitals are already redeploying unvaccinated staff to clinical areas where there is a lower risk of contact with COVID patients and vaccinating staff as and when Commonwealth supplies become available.

“Every year health care staff are required to get vaccinated against the flu and yet there’s no such directive for COVID,” said CHA’s Health Policy Director James Kemp.

National Cabinet should bring in a uniform rule for mandatory COVID vaccination for hospital staff – regardless of whether they work in ED, ICU or any other clinical or support position, he added.

“The high transmissibility of the Delta variant of COVID is putting workers and the people they care for at greater risk as well as putting extra strain on staff,” he said

Mr Kemp said: “Every worker should have a date in their diary to get vaccinated. Every dose that comes into the country should have a hospital worker’s name next to it.”


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