Access to a treatment for multiple myeloma is accessible from today with the listing of Revlimid (lenalidomide) on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
This drug is Australia’s first and only maintenance treatment specifically indicated and reimbursed for newly diagnosed multiple myeloma (NDMM) patients who have undergone an autologous stem cell transplant (ASCT).
Introduced more than a decade ago, and already on the PBS for transplant ineligible NDMM and relapsed myeloma (in combination with dexamethasone), Revlimid is an immunomodulating agent that inhibits the proliferation of multiple myeloma plasma tumour cells and improves T and NK-cell function.
Reimbursement is based on the results from a phase III, randomised, placebo-controlled trial in NDMM post ASCT, CALGB 100104, which revealed that the drug showed a significant improvement in progression free survival versus placebo in a median follow-up at 91 months.
This is a gain for the approximately 18,000 Australians who live with myeloma, Australia’s third most common blood cancer, and the knowledge that only half of patients affected will survive five years post-diagnosis.
According to Professor Miles Prince, Clinical Haematologist and Director of Cancer Immunology and Molecular Oncology (Epworth Healthcare, Melbourne), continuing to widen access to treatment is critical to improving outcomes for patients with NDMM.
“The typical journey for those diagnosed with multiple myeloma is response, remission and relapse. As such, management includes initial induction therapy, consolidation and maintenance therapy,” Professor Prince said.
“We have seen significant improvements made to quality of life and survival rates for multiple myeloma in the past two decades. However, for survival rates to continue to improve, it is imperative patients receive timely access to the most efficacious therapies.
“Continuing to broaden access to multiple myeloma treatments may improve patient quality of life. The PBS listing of a maintenance therapy represents a further treatment option for patients with NDMM.”
Myeloma Australia CEO, Steve Roach, today welcomed the availability of a new treatment option for the incurable disease.