20th Apr 2015
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Life-saving cancer drug available

A life-saving cancer drug that has been used overseas will soon be available in Australia. Pembrolizumab has shown to be effective to treat advanced melanoma, significantly boosting survival rates.

Approved yesterday by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, pembrolizumab offers Australians suffering from advanced melanoma access to the life-saving medication.

The treatment could cost up to $150,000 a year – or between $10,000 and $15,000 per month – for patients, but oncologists expect it will be added to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

Pembrolizumab has been found to be more effective than other advanced melanoma treatments currently available. Clinical trials funded by the manufacturer Merck, involving 834 patients in 16 countries including Australia, found that 75 percent of advanced melanoma patients using pembrolizumab were still alive after 12 months. This was compared with 58 percent of those using other cancer treatments.

Associate Professor Georgina Long from The Melanoma Institute of Australia was involved in the trials. According to Ms Long 30 per cent of patients did not respond to the drug, but she said the drug was more effective at shrinking tumours, prolonging life and had fewer side effects than the current taxpayer-funded medicines.

Australian mother Beth Fletcher, 55, had seven tumours and accessed pembrolizumab through a clinical trial in October last year. She says that within six weeks of being on the drug, her tumours had “reduced by 60 per cent and six weeks after that they weren’t showing up at all on scans.”

Kathy Gardiner, 33, was diagnosed with terminal cancer, with CT scans showed five major tumours on her lungs. However, after less than a year on Pembrolizumab, only one tumour is visible.

Oncologists hope that the drug can be developed to fight other cancers as well, with strong data suggesting that it may be effective in development of drugs for lung, bladder, head and neck cancer.

Read more at ABC.net.au.





    COMMENTS

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    Precious 1
    22nd Apr 2015
    12:05pm
    That young boy somewhere in the world said he had a cure and it was to attck and rev up the immune system...they proved this worked with mice and rats...why isn't this one out there too and it was on the radio three weeks ago one late night show......
    Precious 1
    22nd Apr 2015
    8:36pm
    I heard it was very very expensive thousands of dollars a dose...
    Precious 1
    22nd Apr 2015
    12:08pm
    Love to know why melanoma attacks areas of the body that is covered up all the time....and why is there so many people in our era suffering from cancers? has it always been like this ? its seems that everyone of us except a tiny proportion is going to be attacked.....
    Saffyau
    22nd Apr 2015
    3:53pm
    Quite often it is incompetent Drs who say nothing to worry about. Son had lesion removed GP didnt send for marker test six months later he hit the local casualty dept. suspected heart attack treated for ulcers then by outpatients i convinced him to see GP had the right tests told at 35yrs go make your will you have 3months. It has always been around i recently asked for check funny scaly thing on foot oh that's okay callous from wearing sandals. Booked in for surgery skin cancer eating my foot slowly. Get checked regularly and get second opinion if you doubt.as we are both rangas have always been sunscreen users
    Precious 1
    22nd Apr 2015
    12:09pm
    I ve seen people with enormous growths hanging from their bodies who don`t want to have them surgically removed....Is this because they think it may spread??
    Saffyau
    22nd Apr 2015
    3:42pm
    My son was in last stage of life he went on this trial. His bucket list to see his girl turn fifteen.He is doing well maybe sixteen. To all who suffer the tunnel is dark but light is now shining in. Just have to hope for it to be on PBS or he will have to sell all to live.
    Precious 1
    22nd Apr 2015
    8:35pm
    Good remarks/comments...there are so many questions and still I believe its not an easy sub ject to chat about is it...My father used to ring me up North of UK to South of UK daily about his worry over what he had...first of all he lost weight...then he used to have those throbbing head aches...I used to them when going to work on the Metro line to Paddington in my early married days..iot was the usal rush every morning but soon settled nerves etc\........Father had these only all day...anyway I was always there for him but he eventually had brain scans etc and then Hospital and it was too far gone to keep him alive...I held his hand throughout those days hubby marvellous with the children for me...Mum was a mess but I saw my darling Father pass and it seemed so beautiful somehow..still holding his hand.......we all go thru different types of greiveing don`t we...it takes time but also gteaches us patience and calm in a way.....the hardest part is the acceptance.....I feel close to him everyday here in Oz and every evening when watching TV my cat sits looking at me and also another to the left of me...
    Precious 1
    22nd Apr 2015
    8:39pm
    So sorry to hear your story etc........my Father ...it was 40 years ago...but still fresh in my mind......


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