Consumer comments open for CAR-T cell therapy funding for myeloma in Australia
What is CAR-T cell therapy?
CAR-T stands for ‘Chimeric Antigen Receptor T Cell’ and is a type of treatment known as an immunotherapy. The treatment works with your own immune system to detect and destroy myeloma cells.
What are T cells and how does CAR-T work?
T-cells are a type of white blood cell and are part of our first-line immune defense. T-cells are found in the blood and lymphatic systems and circulate to detect and destroy abnormal cells or antigens such as bacteria and viruses. Unfortunately, T-cells are unable to detect and destroy cancer cells, allowing them to survive and multiply.
CAR-T cell therapy involves collecting an individual’s T-cells and genetically engineering them by adding a specific protein onto the T-Cells. The engineered or ‘CAR-T cells’ are then given to the person with myeloma by an infusion into the bloodstream and they are then able to recognise, bind to and destroy myeloma cells.
For myeloma, the most common receptor targeted by CAR-T cells is called B-cell maturation antigen (BCMA), however other targets are also being explored and trialed.
Currently, CAR-T cell therapy for myeloma is available through clinical trials, this application is the first CAR-T cell product for myeloma to seek funding through Medicare in Australia so far.
What is the CAR-T product being considered and the indication?
The CAR-T cell product that is being considered for funding is called Ciltacabtagene autoleucel (cilta-cel) and for those with myeloma who have had more than 3 prior lines of therapy.
Ciltacabtagene Autoleucel (cilta-cel) is a CAR-T cell product from Janssen Pharmaceuticals and has been studied through the CARTITUDE clinical trials globally and in Australia.
What is the process of getting funding for CAR-T cell therapy in Australia?
As CAR-T cell therapy is not a ‘medicine’ as such, public healthcare funding is sought through Australia’s Medicines Services Advisory Committee (MSAC) rather than the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC).
MSAC is an independent committee and its role is to advise the Australian Minister for Health on evidence relating to the safety, effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of new medical technologies and procedures, including CAR-Ts. This informs Australian Government decisions about public funding for medical procedures.
Consumer comments remain an important aspect to the decision-making process and MSAC are currently seeking consumer comments and feedback for the Cilta-Cel CAR-T application for people with myeloma who have received at least 3 prior lines of therapy.
How do I submit consumer comments to MSAC?
You can positively influence the government’s decision to fund CAR-T by making your voice heard. Myeloma Australia and our Medical Scientific Advisory Group (MSAG) have provided feedback for the application already as part of the MSAC process and now the opportunity for the wider community to provide feedback and comments is available.
As an individual with myeloma, a carer, a friend or a relative it is important that your voice be heard when these decisions are being made. MSAC needs to hear your story, how myeloma has impacted your life and why having this myeloma treatment available is so important to you or your loved one. Further, any individual with lived experience with this treatment via the clinical trial programs are able to provide input.
There are three ways to submit your comments:
- Email MSAC directly:
- Send a letter:
GPO Box 9848,
- Via the Consultation Survey form on the MSAC website, details of which are below.
The easiest way to provide consumer comments is via email or letter.
Things to include in your letter or email to MSAC:
Your name and email / phone
Whether you are an individual with myeloma, or a family member or carer
What is the reality of living with, or caring for someone with myeloma?
What would it mean to you to have access to Cilta-Cel CAR-T therapy for myeloma?
When is the deadline?
Consumer comments can be made up until October 6th 2023
What are the MSAC application details and where do I find further information?
The application details are as follows, Application number 1690.1, Ciltacabtagene autoleucel, a B-cell maturation antigen-directed chimeric antigen receptor T cell to treat refractory or relapsed multiple myeloma
You can download the Consultation Survey form at the MSAC website – www.msac.gov.au/internet/msac/publishing.nsf/Content/1690-public
Myeloma Australia will provide more information about this process in upcoming email communications and social media and if you have any questions please email please email email@example.com