What is CAR-T cell therapy?
CAR-T cell therapy is a completely new way of treating multiple myeloma.
A person’s T cells (immune cells) are extracted, genetically altered to recognise cancer cells, and then infused back into the person, where they seek out and destroy the myeloma.
Unlike cancer therapies that are continuous or require repeat courses, CAR-T cell therapy is a one-off procedure.
The CAR-T cell therapy, Cilta-cel has been approved for use in the United States for people with relapsed refractory myeloma who have exhausted existing therapies. Approval is based on the CARTITUDE-1 clinical trial which found that the therapy was effective in those who had progressed on existing therapies.
What is the Government considering?
Now available overseas, this CAR-T cell therapy is pending approval by the TGA in Australia. Currently, it is only available in Australia through clinical trials.
The Federal Government’s Medical Services Advisory Committee has considered a funding application for CAR-T cell therapy for multiple myeloma where the disease has progressed following three or more prior therapies and decided not to provide funding this time. However, it is important to note that it is not uncommon for new medicines to be initially turned down for public funding and for the committee to review, and approve, subsequent submissions from the manufacturer.
Once registered by the TGA, CAR-T cell therapy will be prohibitively expensive unless the Government funds the procedure. We anticipate that a subsequent funding application will be presented to MSAC in 2023.
Cilta-cel is being investigated more broadly and it is hoped that down the track it will be made available at earlier stages of the disease.
How can I make my voice heard?
We will continue to advocate for new treatments to be publicly funded. If you are willing to share your myeloma story and help explain the importance of new treatment options, please contact us on email@example.com