News & Trends - Pharmaceuticals

Expanded access to cutting edge CAR T-cell therapy

Health Industry Hub | January 28, 2020 |
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Access to a cutting edge and potentially curative cancer therapy will be expanded for patients with particular forms of lymphoma, following a positive recommendation from the Medical Services Advisory Committee (MSAC).

Between 200 and 250 additional cancer patients with Diffuse Large B Cell Lymphoma, Transformed Follicular Lymphoma and Primary Mediastinal B Cell Lymphoma, are expected to benefit from access to Novartis’ CAR T-cell therapy, Kymriah (tisagenlecleucel), each year.

Together with states and territories, the Government currently provides Kymriah to children and young adults with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia for free. Treatment would cost more than $500,000 for each patient without Government funding.

The agreement with Novartis to extend the availability of this treatment to patients with some types of lymphoma through the public health system, follows a positive recommendation from the medical experts on the MSAC.

Diffuse Large B Cell Lymphoma is the most common type of Non Hodgkin Lymphoma. Most patients respond very well to current treatments, but for a small number of patients the disease relapses or is resistant to everything available.

Leukaemia Foundation CEO Bill Petch said the announcement was another strong step forwards to giving more Australians living with blood cancer better access to the best and most innovative new treatments available.

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“This treatment has been available to patients in many other countries for some time, and the Leukaemia Foundation is pleased that today, adult Australians with particular types of lymphoma will have the same access”.

As Kymriah is a highly specialised treatment, it is delivered to patients in specialised tertiary public hospitals.

Melbourne is set to become one of the few cities in the world to manufacture CAR T-cell therapies for the treatment of cancer, with the signing of an historic partnership agreement between Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and Novartis Pharmaceuticals, to manufacture Kymriah in Melbourne. It follows the Government’s $80 million investment to establish the Centre for Excellence in Cellular Immunotherapy at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.

The Centre for Excellence in Cellular Immunotherapy is supporting the capacity and capability of Australia’s leading cancer specialists to use CAR T-cell therapy. The manufacture of Kymriah at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre means patient cells will no longer need to be shipped overseas for processing.

Australia will become one of the few countries in the world to manufacture CAR T-cell therapies. This demonstrates the advanced medical manufacturing capabilities we have in Australia and Victoria.

The Leukaemia Foundation is also working towards a new goal to see zero lives lost to blood cancer by 2035.

Find out more about the State of the Nation: Blood Cancer in Australia report and the Blood Cancer Taskforce.

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