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Leukaemia Foundation supports Federal Government’s $250 million cancer package

Sunday, 15 July 2018

The Leukaemia Foundation is today welcoming the news of the unrestricted benefits listing announcement of the blood cancer drug Pegasys® (pegylated interferon alfa-2a) for Australians living with Myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs).

The support follows the $250 million announcement today by Health Minister Greg Hunt to subsidise four life-changing cancer medicines, including Pegasys® and also upcoming discounted access to the drug IMBRUVICA® (ibrutinib) to treat patients living with relapsed or refractory mantle cell lymphoma, another type of blood cancer.

Today’s funding announcement means patients who currently pay $134,000 for the drug Imbruvica would also now have discounted access from August.

Leukaemia Foundation CEO Bill Petch says the Leukaemia Foundation’s priority is to ensure all Australians living with a blood cancer have access to the best therapies and treatments available.

The Leukaemia Foundation has, and will continue to fully support the unrestricted benefits listing of Pegasys® (pegylated interferon alfa-2a) for MPNs patients and looks forward to the upcoming discounted access to Imbruvica.

The Leukaemia Foundation is the only national charity dedicated to helping Australians affected by a blood cancer such as leukaemia, lymphoma, myeloma and related blood disorders.

What is Myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN)

Myeloproliferative neoplasms are a group of disorders in which the bone marrow stem cells grow and reproduce abnormally. In MPN, abnormal stem cells produce excess numbers of one or more types of blood cells (red cells, white cells and/or platelets). These abnormal cells cannot function properly and can cause serious health problems unless properly treated and controlled.

MPNs are a rare group of diseases that effects an estimated 700 Australians each year. The exact cause of MPNs remain unknown but there are likely to be a number of factors involved. That’s why MPNs, like most leukaemias and other cancers, become more common as we get older.

What is Relapsed or Refractory mantle cell lymphoma

Mantle cell lymphoma is a relatively uncommon type of lymphoma, accounting for approximately 5% to 10% of all non-Hodgkin lymphomas.

Each year in Australia around 5000 people are diagnosed with lymphoma, making it the sixth most common type of cancer in the country. Around 85% of these cases are diagnosed with a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is not a single disease; there are in fact more than 30 different sub types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

The term refractory describes when lymphoma does not respond to treatment, or when response to treatment doesn’t last.