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News Release: Future in cancer treatment arrives for Australian children and young adults battling leukaemia

15 Apr 2019 at 12:00 AM

Hon Greg Hunt MP Minister for Health today announces availability of novel life-saving cancer treatment CAR-T therapy in Australia.

Today, Rare Cancers Australia (RCA) congratulates the Hon Greg Hunt MP Minister for Health on the historical approval and reimbursement of Australia’s first chimeric antigen receptor T cell (CAR-T) therapy.

The ground-breaking treatment from Novartis, Kymriah® will offer new hope for children and young adults (up to the age of 25) with the aggressive blood cancer, acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) that has relapsed or is refractory to other treatments.

“This represents a critical step forward in the treatment of children and young adults living with ALL and marks the arrival of a new frontier that will transform the way we fight against cancer and save lives,” said Richard Vines, Founder and Chairman of Rare Cancers Australia.

“As a one-time treatment, manufactured for each individual patient with the ability to cure – it is set to revolutionise our approach. And it means new hope for children and young adults who have been desperately trying to raise funds to gain access to this breakthrough treatment overseas.”

“Time is of the essence now – and it is essential CAR-T treatment is made available locally in Australia as quickly as possible for patients and their families, who urgently need this life-saving treatment.”

CAR-T is a state-of-the-art therapy involving the extraction of a patient’s own T-cells, which are then genetically reengineered to recognise and destroy cancer before being reintroduced into the body. The treatment is estimated to cost up to $500,000 (in the US).

Following a positive outcome from the Medical Services Advisory Committee (MSAC), the treatment will be provided exclusively in public hospitals and will be funded through the National Health Reform Agreement.

“We would also like to acknowledge the outstanding work undertaken by Novartis in paving the way for local approval and access to CAR-T. The revolutionary manufacturing capabilities at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre will position Australia as a leader in Asia Pacific and one of the few countries in the world able to manufacture CAR-T locally,” adds Richard Vines.

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For more information please contact Richard Vines on 0409 660 003.

Rare Cancers Australia Ltd (RCA) is a charity whose purpose is to improve awareness, support and treatment of Australians with rare and less common (RLC) cancers. In Australia in 2017, an estimated 52,000 people will be diagnosed with a RLC cancer and 25,000 will die from them, according to Cancer in Australia 2017 estimates.

Rare Cancers Australia. Tel: +61 2 4862 2768. PO Box 440, Bowral New South Wales 2576

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