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Venetoclax received PBAC recommendation for AML

Venetoclax (Venclexta®) was among eight blood cancer treatments recommended by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) at its July 2021 meeting to be listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). 

For the previous PBAC meeting, in March, the Leukaemia Foundation submitted consumer comments in relation to the AbbVie resubmission for venetoclax for the treatment of patients with newly diagnosed acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) who are not eligible for standard intensive remission induction chemotherapy.  

The following excerpts are from comments submitted to the Leukaemia Foundation from people with AML who have undergone treatment with venetoclax, and their carers. 

Two patients described venetoclax as “a miracle drug” which put them back into remission, one within a month of starting the treatment.  

For another patient, venetoclax had been “life changing” and had given them “hope for the future”. They said they wouldn’t be alive today if they hadn’t been able to access venetoclax, and they hoped all AML patients would have the opportunity to access the drug. 

Others felt “lucky” and “grateful” to have access to the oral therapy which “was easy to take” and was very convenient; “just one tablet daily”. And, because venetoclax could be taken as an outpatient, it saved endless visits to day care for treatment. 

Patients also referred to having “no side effects” or “very few side effects” from the drug which contributed to life returning to a “semblance of normality”. 

And concern was expressed about the current cost of the drug, which they felt would prohibit many patients from “being able to try it”. 

Intensive chemotherapy followed by stem cell transplant is the current standard of care for the treatment of AML. This is often unsuitable for a large proportion of people diagnosed with AML due to age or other comorbidities. 

The Leukaemia Foundation reiterated to the PBAC, the high unmet need for people with AML, particularly those for whom intensive remission induction chemotherapy therapies were unsuitable, and urged the PBAC to recommend venetoclax for listing on the PBS for eligible patients. 

In latest news, Health Minister Greg Hunt announced that venetoclax will be listed on the PBS from 1 December 2021.

Last updated on June 8th, 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.