According to a story from news.com.au, patients in Western Australia will start getting much cheaper access to a highly valuable treatment next month for a rare form of cancer called mantle cell lymphoma. The change is the result of a recent funding decision from the Australian government. Without coverage from the government, patients would be expected to pay a devastating $134,000 per year for the drug, known as Imbruvica. Starting August 1st, patients will only have to fork over $6.40 for a prescription order.
About Mantle Cell Lymphoma
Mantle cell lymphoma is a rare form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, making up only about six percent of cases. This is a cancer of the B cell lymphocytes. When discovered, mantle cell lymphoma has often already reached an advanced stage. Symptoms are similar to other types of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and include enlarged lymph nodes, enlarged spleen, night sweats, fever, and unexplained weight loss. The digestive system, liver, and bone marrow can also become affected. There is no universal standard of treatment for mantle cell lymphoma, but chemo, targeted therapies (such as Imbruvica), and immunotherapy are common approaches. Five year survival rate is about 50 percent; when the cancer is detected early (which is rare), five year survival reaches 70 percent. To learn more about mantle cell lymphoma, click here.
Imbruvica is a tablet that is taken once a day for treatment. It offers substantial quality of life advantages over systemic therapies like chemo. It has less severe side effects and toxicity while still being an effective treatment. Before the new approval, the drug was simply too expensive for most patients to even consider. Most people respond well to the drug and it is also effective in those patients who have experienced relapse after chemotherapy.
Vic Dennis, who was diagnosed this past October and started chemotherapy almost immediately, is a prime example of a patient who will benefit from using Imbruvica.
“I made the mistake, when I first got diagnosed, of going to Dr Google and reading about Mantle Cell Lymphoma,” he said.
Since starting Imbruvica, Vic has been able to regain a since of normalcy in his life; at age 75, he still plays golf and tennis every week.