MIA welcomes ground-breaking new PBS melanoma treatment
3 July 2015
New Federal Government funding means patients with the most deadly form of melanoma, will soon be able to receive treatment with the drug Keytruda® (pembrolizumab), on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
The drug, which is proven to improve survival, helps the body’s immune system to identify and attack melanoma cancer deposits that have spread rapidly through the body. It reduces the size of the tumours in a majority of patients with advanced melanoma.
Melanoma Institute Australia (MIA), working with other leading melanoma researchers, published a three year study that compared patients receiving Keytruda® and another leading immunotherapy. The landmark research revealed patients on Keytruda® had much better survival rates.
Associate Professor Georgina Long, a lead research investigator for the study, said: “This is great news for patients across Australia, where we have the highest incidence of melanoma in the world and where someone dies from this disease every 6 hours. Our work has led to the Government making these drugs accessible to all melanoma patients.”
Keytruda® is used as a first line treatment for inoperable melanomas and metastatic melanomas which have spread to other parts of the body. However, Associate Professor Long clarifies it does not work for everyone: “Despite the great success for a majority of patients, we must bear in mind that 30-40 per cent of people don’t respond to this treatment. Here at MIA we continue our work to discover why this is, and what else we can be doing to help this group of patients.”
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