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News & Trends - Pharmaceuticals

First immunotherapy treatment PBS listed in small cell lung cancer

Health Industry Hub | February 19, 2020 |

Pharma News: Effective 1 March 2020 the first immunotherapy treatment for small cell lung cancer (SCLC) will be available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

Federal Health Minister, The Hon. Greg Hunt MP, today announced the reimbursement of Roche’s TECENTRIQ (atezolizumab) – an immunotherapy that works with the body’s own immune system to fight cancer – in combination with chemotherapy (etoposide and carboplatin), for the treatment of patients with previously untreated extensive stage small cell lung cancer (ES-SCLC). TECENTRIQ was TGA registered in August 2019.

The announcement is coinciding with the 8th Biennial Australian Lung Cancer Conference (ALCC) in Melbourne.

SCLC accounts for up to 15% of all lung cancers, with an estimated 2,000 Australians expected to be diagnosed with the disease in 2020. Most patients diagnosed with SCLC survive less than one year from diagnosis.

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According to medical oncologist, Dr Steven Kao, Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, Sydney “Survival rates for SCLC are unacceptably low. This is partly due to the aggressive, fast-growing nature of the disease, and to the few recent advances in the management of SCLC.

“For those diagnosed with ES-SCLC, chemotherapy has been the standard treatment option for many decades. Reimbursement of ES-SCLC treatments is an important step forward, potentially in both prolonging, and improving the quality of life for all Australians diagnosed with this devastating disease.”

Happily married truck driver, father-to-two and grandfather-to-one, Glen, 58, Sydney received a heart-breaking diagnosis of ES-SCLC, and was informed he had less than 12 months to live.

“I had two lumps on my neck that I thought were just cysts. I assumed they were harmless, so delayed getting them checked out. When I finally visited the doctor and went through eight difficult weeks of tests, I was eventually diagnosed with ES-SCLC, and told I had less than 12 months to live.

“Given I’m a husband, a dad, and a grandpa, this news was absolutely devastating for all of us. I wanted to be here to see my grandson grow up,” said Glen.

According to Lung Foundation Australia CEO, Mark Brooke, Brisbane, the availability of an immunotherapy for ES-SCLC will be welcome news to the Australian lung cancer community.

“After being told it was unlikely I would live to see the following year, I’ve since returned to work, am back in my shed with my motorbikes and hot rods, and have just celebrated my grandson’s fourth birthday,” Glen said.

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