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News & Trends - Pharmaceuticals

BMS’ adjuvant immunotherapy treatment for melanoma now PBS listed

Health Industry Hub | March 2, 2020 |

Pharma News: Effective March 1, the PBS listing for Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Opdivo (nivolumab) will be expanded to include adjuvant treatment of completely resected stage IIIB, IIIC, IIID and stage IV malignant melanoma.

More than 1,500 patients may otherwise pay more than $100,000 per course of treatment without the PBS subsidy.

The Government is also expanding the listing of Opdivo and Yervoy (nivolumab and ipilimumab) to allow use as a first-line therapy in the treatment of BRAF V600 mutant positive Stage III or Stage IV unresectable or metastatic melanoma.

Without the subsidy, it is estimated more than 600 patients may otherwise pay more than $100,000 per course of treatment.

Australia has one of the highest rates of melanoma in the world—11 times higher than the worldwide average. Tragically, one Australian will die every five hours from melanoma.

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Associate Professor Matteo Carlino, Medical Oncologist and lead investigator at the Melanoma Institute Australia welcomed this PBS listing as an important new option for healthcare practitioners.

“Traditionally, once patients finished their primary treatment (usually surgery) the approach was to watch and wait, hoping the cancer did not return. Now, adjuvant treatment can help reduce the risk of cancer returning for some patients with a higher risk of melanoma coming back.

“We have a lot of experience using immunotherapies in the later stages of the disease and we are looking forward to being able to provide a reimbursed option to melanoma patients in an adjuvant setting,” said Associate Professor Carlino.

Victoria Beedle, CEO of Melanoma Patients Australia, said the PBS listing of adjuvant treatment may give patients hope in reducing the chance of their cancer returning.

“The ‘watch and wait’ approach can mean that patients deal with a substantial amount of anxiety and fear of the cancer returning after surgery.”

“Having access to reimbursed adjuvant immunotherapy treatment that is affordable on the PBS will help alleviate some of the fears that patients with advanced melanoma can experience after successful surgery,” said Victoria Beedle.

Neil MacGregor, Bristol-Myers Squibb Managing Director Australia and New Zealand, said this PBS listing is a significant milestone in helping to reduce the recurrence of melanoma in Australia.

OPDIVO has been approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) for the treatment of a range of cancers including lung, head and neck, kidney, bladder and liver cancer.

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