Federal Government takes first major step in adopting new wave of personalised medicine for Australian patients

16 April 2019: Medicines Australia welcomes the Government’s investment in new technology with Kymriah® (tisagenlecleucel) CAR-T (Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-cell) therapy by Novartis being reimbursed for Australian children and young adults with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL).

Medicines Australia CEO Liz de Somer said immunotherapies, like CAR-T, represent a significant scientific development in the way diseases can be treated. CAR-Ts are living therapies and use a reengineered version of a person’s cell to treat cancer.

“Australians know these therapies exist and have previously had to travel overseas to access treatment. The therapy has been available in the US since 2017 and was approved in the UK and Canada in late 2018.

CAR-T has been evaluated by the Medical Services Advisory Committee (MSAC) and funded through the public hospital system via the National Health Reform Agreement.

“Medicines Australia has long called for a ‘fit for purpose’ system in order to ensure these treatments can be accommodated. In our Budget submission, we called for bi-partisan support for a multi-stakeholder review of the National Medicines Policy to ensure breakthrough treatments and therapies like CAR-T can be effectively accommodated and choice is available for Australian patients.

“Medicines matter to Australians. We need to ensure our National Medicines Policy, the foundation stone of the healthcare system in Australia, can accommodate these transformational medicines. Commitment and investment now will ensure a healthier Australia.

Novartis has entered into negotiation of manufacturing agreements for a new cell and gene manufacturing process at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre – and this represents a critical collaborative effort to achieve access.

“This would also represent an important step in Australia becoming a leader in advanced manufacturing of transformative therapies and a hub for these treatments in the Asia Pacific region,” said Ms de Somer.

“I urge whomever is successful at the 2019 Federal Election to harness this opportunity to boost advanced manufacturing in Australia.”


More information – Natalie Wimmer – 0450 728 660 – nwimmer@medaus.com.au