Australia at risk of falling behind USA and Europe in preventing deadly recurrence of Melanoma

Australia at risk of falling behind USA and Europe in preventing deadly recurrence of Melanoma

23 August 2019

Federal government urged to provide certainty of access to immunotherapy for high risk melanoma patients.

Melanoma Institute Australia is urging the federal government to undertake a timely and efficient review of an immunotherapy treatment effective in preventing the deadly spread of melanoma, and fast track its listing on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). 

Immunotherapy nivolumab was one of three treatments for resected Stage III metastatic melanoma submitted to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) for consideration for PBS listing. 

All three treatments are effective in preventing melanoma recurrence and its spread to other organs including the brain, lungs and liver. Immunotherapy nivolumab is effective for the majority of these high risk patients.

This afternoon the federal government announced nivolumab had been deferred for further consideration, while a targeted combination therapy (effective for less than half these patients) was approved and a third treatment was rejected.

Co-Medical Directors of Melanoma Institute Australia, Professor Georgina Long and Professor Richard Scolyer, said whilst they were very pleased to see one treatment listed, they were disappointed for the majority of high risk melanoma patients that the immunotherapy treatment was not.

‘It is a sad irony that Australia has the highest melanoma rates in the world, yet we risk falling behind the USA and many European countries where this immunotherapy preventing melanoma recurrence in the majority of these high risk patients is already available and subsidised,’ said Professor Georgina Long.

‘Australian patients would like certainty that they will be able to access affordable immunotherapy treatment which has proven successful in clinical trials and which many hundreds of patients have been forced to access on compassionate grounds or face costs of tens of thousands of dollars,’ she said. 

One Australian dies from melanoma every five hours. Melanoma Institute Australia is leading global efforts to find effective treatments for all melanoma patients, and eventually reach zero deaths from melanoma. 

‘It is frustrating, disheartening and disappointing for Australia to be leading the international melanoma research effort, yet our own government is lagging behind the rest of the world in ensuring high risk patients have subsidised access to this proven immunotherapy treatment,’ Professor Scolyer added. 

‘We urge the federal governent to fast track further consideration of this immunotherapy and remain hopeful it will eventually be listed on the PBS,’ he said.

Researchers uncover treatment sequence for advanced melanoma patients
23 Mar 2018

Researchers uncover treatment sequence for advanced melanoma patients

Australian researchers have greater clarity on the best course of treatment for patients with advanced melanoma which has spread to the brain.

An unsung hero of melanoma care for nearly 30 years
22 Mar 2018

An unsung hero of melanoma care for nearly 30 years

Melanoma treatment has come a long way in recent times, and the role that nurses play caring for melanoma patients has changed dramatically too.

Sharing our research on melanoma surgery
21 Mar 2018

Sharing our research on melanoma surgery

MIA is sharing it's research with the global surgical oncology community this week at the Society of Surgical Oncology Annual Cancer Symposium.

14 Melanoma Marches down, 7 to go!
19 Mar 2018

14 Melanoma Marches down, 7 to go!

It was a massive weekend of Melanoma Marches with six Marches in: Bendigo, Canberra, Manly, Newcastle, Bunbury and Adelaide.

Melanoma March keeps marching
14 Mar 2018

Melanoma March keeps marching

Weekend two hit the ground marching with Melanoma Marches in Wollongong, Townsville, Mandurah and Western Sydney.

Melanoma March kicks off for 2018
08 Mar 2018

Melanoma March kicks off for 2018

Melanoma Institute Australia's annual fundraising initiative is all systems go!

Calls for urgent crackdown on illegal backyard solariums
07 Mar 2018

Calls for urgent crackdown on illegal backyard solariums

The reported proliferation of illegal commercial solariums is costing lives and requires urgent government intervention.

15-year-old melanoma survivor Toby Rayner will lead Mount Gambier's march against melanoma
28 Feb 2018

15-year-old melanoma survivor Toby Rayner will lead Mount Gambier's march against melanoma

15-year-old melanoma survivor Toby Rayner will lead Mount Gambier’s march against melanoma Julie-Ann Sams knows all too well that melanoma doesn’t discriminate. 

Excision margins for melanoma redefined
21 Feb 2018

Excision margins for melanoma redefined

Updated guidelines defining appropriate excision margins have been published thanks to research from MIA. 

A Pawsome Story of Hope
21 Feb 2018

A Pawsome Story of Hope

Joanne and her trusty companion Frankie spend their days spreading a message of hope in hospitals, nursing homes, even prisons. It is a long way from her darkest hour facing palliative care. This is her story of hope.

A new generation of melanoma researchers
15 Feb 2018

A new generation of melanoma researchers

Melanoma impacts more Australian teenagers and young adults than any other cancer. Dr James Wilmott, who has a young family of his own, has devoted his career to determining why these young Australians are susceptible to melanoma, and importantly, how to save them.

Melanoma Masterclass celebrates Australian luminaries who have transformed melanoma treatment worldwide
13 Feb 2018

Melanoma Masterclass celebrates Australian luminaries who have transformed melanoma treatment worldwide

The extraordinary contribution of Australia’s most distinguished melanoma clinicians and researchers is being celebrated today.

Prestigious award in pathology for Professor Scolyer
09 Feb 2018

Prestigious award in pathology for Professor Scolyer

Congratulations to Professor Richard Scolyer who was awarded the William O. Russell/Joanne Vandenberge Hill Award of Excellence in Pathology.

A Day in the Life Of... Serigne Lo
09 Feb 2018

A Day in the Life Of... Serigne Lo

A Day in the Life Of... Serigne Lo, Research and BioStatistics Manager at Melanoma Institute Australia

Jay inspires others to help end melanoma and so can you
07 Feb 2018

Jay inspires others to help end melanoma and so can you

Jay was your typical Aussie bloke – a truck driver, husband, dad and mate to many. Then he got melanoma. His cancer diagnosis turned his life upside down.

A dilemma no mother-to-be should face
31 Jan 2018

A dilemma no mother-to-be should face

Clair faced an impossible choice – risk delivering her baby early, or delay potentially life-saving melanoma treatment

Join little Madi and Bettina in the fight against melanoma
25 Jan 2018

Join little Madi and Bettina in the fight against melanoma

Little Madi misses her Dad. But she is determined to honour his memory and support life-saving melanoma research.

Toyota and country music fans invited to tip their hat to help tackle Australia's national cancer – melanoma
19 Jan 2018

Toyota and country music fans invited to tip their hat to help tackle Australia's national cancer – melanoma

Melanoma Institute Australia has teamed up with the Toyota Country Music Festival 2018 in Tamworth!

Sun Protection: Facts and Controversies
18 Jan 2018

Sun Protection: Facts and Controversies

MIA's dermatologist shares her knowledge with GPs on debunking myths and controversies on sunscreen.

Shannan Ponton joins our March for a cure
17 Jan 2018

Shannan Ponton joins our March for a cure

Shannan Ponton thought he was invincible – he wasn’t. But his melanoma battle ended up saving more than his own life.