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Labor’s commitment to blood cancer

$20M commitment to blood cancer and new Right to Trial program

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.

Our CEO Bill Petch joined Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and Shadow Health Minister for Health and Medicare Catherine King on 17 April 2019 at Perth’s St John of God Hospital to support the announcement.

The 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. This project builds upon the Australian Genomic Cancer Medicine Program, which uses genomics to improve the understanding, early detection, prevention and management of solid tumours and until now no such program existed for blood cancers.The project is set to commence in June 2019.

Labor’s additional investment to establish the Right to Trial program would dramatically expand the initial project and provide approximately 1,800 blood cancer patients with access to the treatments they need.

Through the program, blood cancer patients would 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.

Our research 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. For some, this lack of access can be a death sentence.

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. Critically, it will provide access to treatments for people with a blood cancer who would otherwise have few or no treatment options left.

The funding would also help to establish the Right to Trial framework and a Ministerial Advisory Group for Blood Cancers.

This framework will establish the method for capturing data from these 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.

If you’d like to speak with one of our friendly team members about how we can work with you, your family and carers, to access services and support you need, please call us on 1800 620 420.