News in brief: Intravenous Herceptin not available on PBS after October 2021; COVID-19 vax booster needed for some patients; Antivax practitioners will be struck off, AHPRA warns

Intravenous Herceptin not available after October 2021,

Intravenous Herceptin will no longer be available on the PBS from 1 October, but biosimilar alternatives will be reimbursed for women with HER-2 positive breast cancer, according to the Breast Cancer Network Australia.

BCNA is advising women that the biosimilar alternatives to Roche’s IV Herceptin approved in Australia include Herzuma (also known as Ritemvia, Rituzena, Tuxella); Ogivri; Ontruzant; Kanjinti and Trazimera.

Subcutaneous Herceptin will remain on the PBS for now, BCNA advises.

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.

Antivax practitioners will be struck off, AHPRA warns

AHPRA has reminded health practitioners they face severe consequences for promoting antivaccination messages after a Victorian chiropractor was suspended for six months.

Simon Floreani was found guilty of professional misconduct by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal after allowing the film ‘Vaxxed: From cover-up to catastrophe’ to be shown at his clinic and for appearing in Youtube video entitled “Nazi vaccine regime in Australia”.

In an online interview he claimed there was no evidence to show the efficacy of childhood vaccination and likened it to poison.

The tribunal said it had ‘no hesitation’ in making a finding of professional misconduct, given the ‘flawed, inaccurate and dangerous statements’ that Floreani had made and endorsed during the interview, in full knowledge that those statements were entirely inconsistent with the Code of conduct and the Statement.

AHPRA CEO Martin Fletcher that while the case matter predated the COVID-19 pandemic, the tribunal’s verdict highlighted the responsibility of all health practitioners in public discourse and that “there is a potential for significant harm to the community when false claims are made which can directly impact public health.”

“This is something that Ahpra and the National Boards are acutely aware of, as is reflected in our Vaccination position statement,’ he said.

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