Australians with recurrent and refractory glioblastoma (GBM) - a common and aggressive form of brain cancer, look set to get affordable access to the cancer drug Avastin, which previously could cost up to $20,000.
Thanks to the many submissions they received, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC), has recommended that eligible Australian brain cancer patients have access to Avastin via the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). This means they'll be able to access it, regardless of their bank balance.
Both the PBAC and Roche, the manufacturer of Avastin, have noted that the significant number of submissions from the brain cancer community played a huge role in achieving this recommendation.
While Avastin is no miracle cure, the PBAC acknowledges that treatment options for patients with recurrent GBM are currently extremely limited. In fact, no new therapies or treatments have been approved and placed on the PBS since Temozolomide in 2007, and even this drug is only effective for around a third of patients.
Roche will now work with the Department of Health to get Avastin listed on the PBS as quickly as possible, hopefully as soon as August this year.
We would like to thank the dozens of members of the brain cancer community who took action and supported our campaign to give Australians with brain cancer the same affordable access to treatments as patients overseas. They have helped create real change for people impacted by this awful disease. We would also like to thank the tireless work of many who helped bring this process to this point in the past, including Lisa Clarke, our former Head of Engagement Barrie Littlefield and receptive ears at the drug manufacturer Roche. We wouldn't be here without them .
The PBAC's recommendation for Avastin to be listed on the PBS
The PBAC recommended the Section 100 (Efficient Funding of Chemotherapy)
Authority Required listing of bevacizumab for the treatment of relapsed or
refractory glioblastoma.The PBAC considered there is a high unmet clinical need
for treatments for patients with relapsed or refractory glioblastoma, and
acknowledged the large number of comments from consumers, clinicians
and organisations received for the March 2019 meeting.
The PBAC considered that bevacizumab was associated with improvements in responserates and progression free survival, and hence quality of life through control over deterioration and symptom management. While the PBAC considered that there remaineduncertainty in the magnitude of some of these benefits, the PBAC noted that the benefits, as described by consumers and clinicians included: improved neurological function, improved mobility, and a reduction in steroid dose and a restoration of dignity. The PBAC also noted that across studies, the objective response rate with bevacizumab was between 30% and 40%. Overall, the PBAC was satisfied that bevacizumab provides, for some patients, an improvement in efficacy over standard care (salvage chemotherapy).
We will keep you updated on the progress of the listing over the coming months. Thank you again to those who supported this campaign, and please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to be involved in similar campaigns in the future.
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