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New PBS listing vital to Australians living with B-cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia

Thursday, 4 April 2019

The Leukaemia Foundation has welcomed news Australians living with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (B-ALL) will have access to the drug inotuzumab ozogamicin (Besponsa®) through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) after the listing was announced in this week’s Federal Budget.

According to the Federal Government, Australians living with B-ALL will soon pay $6.50 per script for the drug, compared to the current cost of $120,000 a course.

The PBS listing of inotuzumab ozogamicin – or inotuzumab – ensures the treatment will be more widely accessible and affordable and gives clinicians access to a wider range of treatment options.

B-ALL, sometimes called Burkitt type ALL, is a less common type of ALL which arises in more mature white blood cells.

Tuesday night’s PBS listing encompasses use of inotuzumab for chemotherapy treatment of relapsed or refractory Philadelphia chromosome negative CD22 positive B-ALL.

Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) is a type of cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow, characterised by an overproduction of immature white blood cells. ALL means bone marrow is unable to make adequate numbers of red cells, normal white cells and platelets, resulting in ALL patients becoming more susceptible to anaemia, recurrent infections, and to bruising and bleeding easily.

More than 300 adults and children are diagnosed with ALL each year in Australia. ALL’s quick progression means treatment needs to begin soon after diagnosis, with chemotherapy the main form of treatment for the blood cancer.

The majority of children living with ALL can move into remission with treatment. However, survival rates are more variable in adults, who are the most likely to be affected by B-ALL.

The announcement is part of a multi-million-dollar funding package from the Federal Government supporting new and revised PBS listings.

A Leukaemia Foundation spokesperson said the listing of inotuzumab on the PBS was a step forward for B-ALL patients.

“Ensuring affordable access to treatment through the PBS is vital for improving the quality of life of Australians living with B-ALL and ultimately helping them to survive their blood cancer,” they said.

“We look forward to seeing more PBS listings to ensure Australians of all ages diagnosed with a blood cancer have affordable access to the innovative treatments they need as quickly as possible wherever they live.”

The Leukaemia Foundation provides practical and emotional support to Australians diagnosed with a blood cancer including ALL at no cost, thanks to the generosity of the community through our fundraising efforts. The Foundation produces a series of disease specific newsletters including ALL News, and invites all Australians living with the disease to subscribe for ongoing information.

Last updated on July 13th, 2022

Developed by the Leukaemia Foundation in consultation with people living with a blood cancer, Leukaemia Foundation support staff, haematology nursing staff and/or Australian clinical haematologists. This content is provided for information purposes only and we urge you to always seek advice from a registered health care professional for diagnosis, treatment and answers to your medical questions, including the suitability of a particular therapy, service, product or treatment in your circumstances. The Leukaemia Foundation shall not bear any liability for any person relying on the materials contained on this website.