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News & Trends - Pharmaceuticals

New combination therapy PBS listed for patients with melanoma

Health Industry Hub | October 30, 2019 |

Incidence of melanoma in Australia is more than twice the rate in the UK or USA. It is estimated 15,229 Australians will be diagnosed with melanoma in 2019, and approximately 400 will have Stage III resected BRAF mutation positive melanoma.

Novartis is pleased to announce TAFINLAR (dabrafenib) in combination with MEKINIST (trametinib) has been listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) as an adjuvant therapy for patients with BRAF V600 mutation positive, resected (surgically removed) Stage IIIB, Stage IIIC or Stage IIID melanoma.

Whilst those diagnosed with Stage I and II melanoma have a very high chance of survival, nearly one in two people diagnosed with Stage III melanoma will have their cancer return within one year after surgery. Until now there have been no reimbursed treatments for these patients.

Victoria Beedle, CEO of Melanoma Patients Australia said “We know many people with Stage III melanoma are anxious about their cancer returning after their surgery. We welcome the availability of a new treatment option for people following surgery with BRAF-positive disease”.

Determining whether a person is eligible for TAFINLAR in combination with MEKINIST requires a test to confirm the presence of the BRAF V600 mutation. From the 1st November, people with Stage IIIB-D resected melanoma will also have reimbursed access to this test via the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS).

Dr Andrew Haydon, Medical Oncologist at The Alfred Hospital, Melbourne said “As our understanding of the specific characteristics of people’s cancer evolves, so does the development of treatment options that specifically target their disease.

“We now have the ability to identify a certain population of people whose melanoma has a specific genetic mutation – in this case BRAF V600 – and the opportunity to offer them a reimbursed treatment option that targets this specific genetic profile earlier in their cancer journey.”

“This is an important outcome for patients living with BRAF mutation positive Stage IIIB-D melanoma following surgery,” said Lauren Carey, Country President & Oncology General Manager, Novartis Australia & New Zealand. “We acknowledge the Australian Government for their commitment to providing access to innovative therapies for patients in Australia.”

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