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Breakthrough chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) treatment now available for Australians



The Leukaemia Foundation welcomes the Federal Government’s announcement that the targeted cancer treatment Venetoclax (Venclexta®), will be added to Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) from 1 March 2019. 

 

Venetoclax will be available in combination with rituximab for patients aged 18 years or older with relapsed or refractory chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL), who have received at least one prior CLL therapy and who are unsuitable for treatment or retreatment with a purine analogue.  

 

CLL is the most common form of leukaemia with close to 1,500 Australians expected to be diagnosed this year. It is a slow growing leukaemia that affects white blood cells. Symptoms may include swollen lymph nodes (glands) in the neck, groin and arms, tiredness, unexplained bruising and unintentional weight loss.  

 

The Leukaemia Foundation’s CEO, Bill Petch, said, “This is great news for Australians diagnosed with CLL. Having affordable access to breakthrough treatments is vital for improving quality of life and ultimately surviving their blood cancer.  

 

“We continue to encourage the government to support targeted and innovative treatments ensuring Australians diagnosed with a blood cancer have affordable access as quickly as possible.” he said. 

 

Venetoclax has been in development for over 30 years and is based on the Australian discovery that a protein called BCL-2 helps CLL cells survive. Blocking this protein helps to kill and reduce the number of these cancer cells and in turn may slow the spread of CLL.   

 

The Leukaemia Foundation has been funding blood cancer research since 2002 supporting Australian research and researchers with more than $47 million in funding including early work on the precursor to ABT-199 which assisted in the development of Venetoclax. 

 

For further CLL information, please download the Leukaemia Foundation information booklet https://www.leukaemia.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/CLL_WEB.pdf or contact your local Blood Cancer Support Coordinator on 1800 620 420. 

-ENDS- 

About The Leukaemia Foundation: 

The Leukaemia Foundation is the only national charity dedicated to helping more Australians survive blood cancer and live a better quality of life. Leukaemia, lymphoma, myeloma and related blood disorders are all types of blood cancer, which can develop in anyone, of any age, at any time.  

More than 100,000 Australians are living with blood cancer or related disorders, and the equivalent of one person every 41 minutes is diagnosed. Although research is improving survival, sadly an Australian loses their life to blood cancer every two hours, claiming more lives than breast cancer and melanoma.  

For more information, please visit leukaemia.org.au