Two melanoma immunotherapy treatments recommended for PBS listing

Skin cancers

By Michael Woodhead

23 Jan 2020

Two immunotherapy treatments for patients with high risk early-stage and advanced-stage melanoma have received a recommendation for PBS listing from the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC).

The anti-PD-1 drug nivolumab (Opdivo) was recommended for subsidy the treatment of resected Stage III/IV (high risk) metastatic melanoma by the PBAC at its November meeting.

The committee also recommended PBS listing of the combination of CTLA-4 blocker ipilimumab (Yervoy) and nivolumab as first-line therapies in the treatment of BRAF V600 mutant positive Stage III or Stage IV unresectable or metastatic melanomas.

The decisions were welcomed by clinicians from the Melanoma Institute Australia, who said they would give patients to subsidised access to treatments that would otherwise cost tens of thousands of dollars.

“Our clinical trials have proven nivolumab is effective in preventing melanoma recurrence and its spread to other organs including the brain, lungs and liver in the majority of high risk resected Stage III patients,” said Professor Georgina Long, a Medical Director of the Institute.

“Our trials have also proven the effectiveness of the combination immunotherapy as front line treatment for Stage IV melanoma patients where their disease has already spread to other organs, including the brain.”

“Providing certainty of access to these treatments via the PBS will be life-changing and life-saving, and we applaud the Federal Government for this decision,” added co-director Professor Richard Scolyer.

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