An new treatment for relapsed or refractory systemic anaplastic large cell lymphoma (sALCL) has been listed in Australia, the first to be approved in 30 years.
A novel antibody-drug-conjugate therapy – brentuximab vedotin – which has been shown to treat CD30-positive lymphoma effectively, has been reimbursed for the treatment of sALCL, following listing on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
The listing follows TGA approval of the therapy in December 2013, which is based on data from a phase II trial, in which 86% of patients achieved an objective response following treatment and tumour reductions were achieved in 97 percent of patients. Additionally, the estimated 36 month overall survival was 63% (median follow-up from the first dose was 33.4 months).
Commenting on this development, Clinical Professor of Haematology Professor Mark Hertzberg, said the therapy “offers substantial hope of increased lifespan and quality of life for a group of patients for whom conventional chemotherapy has failed to deliver any long term survival”.
Brentuximab vedotin belongs to the class of targeted drugs known as antibody–drug conjugates (ADCs) and works by targeting a protein known as CD30, which is present on sALCL cells, as well as on cells from other cancers, including classical Hodgkin lymphoma. After brentuximab vedotin enters CD30-positive cells, it releases the chemotherapy drug, monomethyl auristatin E (MMAE), which kills the cell.
Despite the patient population being small, Professor Hertzberg welcomed the new treatment as it “represents a major advance and meets a significant unmet medical need”.