Leukaemia Foundation supports Labor’s $20 million blood cancer Right to Trial
Wednesday, 17 April 2019
The Leukaemia Foundation welcomes Federal Labor’s commitment of $20 million to give Australian blood cancer patients faster access to leading clinical trial drugs and therapies through a new Right to Trial program.
Leukaemia Foundation CEO Bill Petch today joined Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and Shadow Health Minister for Health and Medicare Catherine King at Perth’s St John of God Hospital to support the announcement.
The funding announcement stems from a $1.8 million project developed by the Leukaemia Foundation and Tour de Cure who will work with the Garvan Institute in Sydney, SA Genomics in Adelaide and QIMR in Brisbane to establish greater access to new and emerging treatments for blood cancer patients. The project is set to commence in June 2019.
“Labor’s additional investment and commitment to establish the Right to Trial program would dramatically expand the initial project and provide access to approximately 1800 blood cancer patients, ensuring they can access the treatments they need.” said Mr Petch.
Mr Petch said the Right to Trial program will help blood cancer patients gain faster access to new and emerging therapies specific to the genetic markers of their disease, up to 5 to 10 years before they would be normally available under traditional Australian clinical trial schemes.
It will also provide a more equitable mechanism for the systematic trialling of treatments, which are emerging or in use, but are not supported by a Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) or Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) listing for a particular disease.
“Research by the Leukaemia Foundation found that one in five Australian blood cancer patients try to access a clinical trial, but there either aren’t any trials currently available, or they weren’t eligible,” Mr Petch said.
“For some people with blood cancer, this lack of access can be a death sentence,” he said.
Compared to traditional clinical trials, which require trials to open in Australia and recruit sufficient numbers of patients to be considered viable, the Right to Trial model is a new approach to clinical trials, personalised to the individual patient.
“This is about finding the right treatment, for the right patient at the right time.”
Critically, it will provide access to treatments for people with a blood cancer who would otherwise have few or no treatment options left.
“Blood cancer does not discriminate. Anyone can receive a diagnosis at any stage of their life. The Right to Trial program is about supporting everyday Australians.” Mr Petch said.
The funding would also help to establish the Right to Trial framework and a Ministerial Advisory Group for Blood Cancers.
The Right to Trial framework will establish the method for capturing data from these clinical trials to generate the real-world evidence required by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) in the era of high-cost targeted therapy.
The new Ministerial Advisory Group would bring together leading blood cancer clinicians, researchers and patient support organisations including the Leukaemia Foundation to address the current and future challenges faced by Australians living with blood cancer.
“We stand ready to work in partnership with Government to ensure that Australians of all ages diagnosed with a blood cancer have access to the innovative treatments and services they need” said Mr Petch.
The Leukaemia Foundation and Tour de Cure commitment builds upon the Australian Genomic Cancer Medicine Program, which uses genomics to improve the understanding, early detection, prevention and management of solid tumours like ovarian, pancreatic cancers and sarcomas.
“Until now there was no program for blood cancers.” Mr Petch said.