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PBS listing of blinatumomab extended  

Australians with ALL and minimal residual disease (MRD) can now access blinatumomab (Blincyto®) on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS)  following an extension to the drug’s listing last year.

It is expected that 86 people with ALL are eligible for the drug that prior to PBS listing would have cost them up the $150,000 per treatment course.

In May 2019, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) recommended blinatumomab also be listed for people with B-cell precursor ALL in haematological complete remission with MRD following induction chemotherapy.

And on 1 December 2019, the treatment became available for these people on the PBS.

The PBAC’s recommendation was based on updated data from the BLAST study  that further indicated blinatumomab may be associated with an overall survival advantage.

Blinatumomab is a bi-specific T-cell engager (BiTE) that enables a patient’s T- cells to recognise malignant B-cells.

Prior to Amgen’s first submission for a listing of blinatumomab at the July 2016 meeting of the PBAC, the Leukaemia Foundation surveyed a small number of people with ALL who had received blinatumomab on their personal experiences with the treatment. Their responses were included in comments the Leukaemia Foundation provided to the PBAC in February 2019 in relation to Amgen’s submission for blinatumomab for the treatment of ALL, for consideration at the March 2019 meeting.  The PBAC deferred its decision and reconsidered the submission in July 2019, making a positive recommendation.