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Chemo-free drug – Venetoclax – now listed on the PBS for CLL

The targeted cancer therapy, venetoclax (Venclexta®), is now available through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) as another option to treat CLL.

On 1 March 2019, venetoclax – a chemo-free treatment – was listed on the PBS in combination with rituximab (Mabthera®) for people aged 18 years or older with relapsed or refractory CLL, who have received at least one prior CLL therapy and are unsuitable for treatment and retreatment with a purine analogue.

For Consumer Medicine Information on venetoclax, click here.

The Leukaemia Foundation said “this is great news for Australians diagnosed with CLL”.

“Having affordable access to breakthrough treatments is vital for improving quality of life and ultimately surviving their blood cancer,” said a spokesperson.

“We continue to encourage the government to support targeted and innovative treatments ensuring Australians diagnosed with a blood cancer have affordable access as quickly as possible.”

Venetoclax (previously known as ABT-199) was developed over 30 years and is based on an Australian discovery that a protein called BCL2 helps CLL cells survive. Blocking this protein helps to kill and reduce the number of these cancer cells and in turn may slow the spread of CLL.

The Leukaemia Foundation funded early work on the precursor to ABT-199. This research, undertaken by Dr Kylie Mason, Professor Andrew Roberts and collaborators at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute (Melbourne) through the Leukaemia Foundation’s National Research Program Grants-in-Aid 2010 and 2012, assisted in the development of venetoclax.

Prof. Roberts, Cancer Theme Leader at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, said the listing of venetoclax was testimony to the effectiveness of Australian medical innovation.

“New medicines don’t happen by accident. They are the result of careful laboratory and clinical research over many years.

“In the case of this drug, Australian scientists and clinical researchers played prominent roles, demonstrating that Australia is a key player in globally significant translational research,” Professor Roberts said.

Further support is critical to ensure all Australians can reap the benefits of scientific advancements. If you would like to invest in blood cancer research, contact us 1800 620 420 today to find out how.

Last updated on June 24th, 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.