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News & Trends - Pharmaceuticals

BMS/Celgene multiple myeloma combination therapy now PBS listed

Health Industry Hub | June 1, 2020 |

Pharma News: Australians living with the  incurable blood  cancer, multiple myeloma now have access to a  new treatment option with today’s listing of REVLIMID (lenalidomide) in combination with bortezomib (Velcade) and dexamethasone (RVd) on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

The three drug regimen will be reimbursed on the PBS for the treatment of all newly diagnosed Multiple Myeloma (NDMM) patients, irrespective of transplant eligibility, from June 1, 2020.

Known as a triplet therapy, each drug in the RVd combination has a different mechanism of action to kill myeloma cells, and all work together to help fight the disease.

This announcement coincides  with  an article just published in Medical Journal of  Australia’s MJA Insight, highlighting the importance of maximising first-line therapy for myeloma.

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According to article author, Professor Miles Prince, Clinical Haematologist and Director of  Cancer Immunology and Molecular Oncology at Epworth Healthcare, Melbourne “The  typical journey of  a patient with  myeloma is one  of  response, remission and relapse, so early  intervention with first-line treatment options remains the best opportunity to optimise long term patient outcomes.

“While myeloma remains incurable, the survival rate for the disease has significantly improved over the past two decades, with the median survival rate having more than doubled to seven years,” said Prof Prince.

“The listing of these treatments on the PBS is critical to improving patient access, and the reimbursement of an additional first-line therapy option for multiple myeloma is welcomed news.”

Multiple myeloma is an incurable blood cancer that develops from plasma cells, a type of white blood cell found in the bone marrow.

Representing  Australia’s   third   most   common   blood   cancer  (after  lymphoma  and  leukaemia), approximately 18,000 Australians are living with multiple myeloma at any given time, only half of whom will survive five years post- diagnosis.

Myeloma  Australia  CEO, Steve Roach, said today’s PBS listing  of RVd is good news for the Australian myeloma community.

“This  is the first time in Australia that the major  treatment options  for myeloma  have been reimbursed as a triplet  therapy. I’m really pleased that the government and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) have seen the importance of this and would like to congratulate them on reimbursing another treatment option for the Australian myeloma community.

The incurable nature of multiple myeloma and the likelihood of relapse, may have a psychological impact on patients,who can continue to live in fear even during periods of remission.

Diagnosed with multiple myeloma  in December 2018,wife and mother-to-two, Maria (53) is focused on living long enough to see her children grow up.

“I had absolutely no idea what multiple myeloma was before I was diagnosed. It was such a shock, but I remember thinking my kids aren’t going to lose a mother to this, so let’s get on with it,” said Maria.

“Today’s reimbursement of another therapy is welcomed news for myself and others living with multiple myeloma,” Maria said.


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