A new wave of immunotherapy cancer treatments are on our doorstep. And they have the potential to revolutionise the way we treat cancer.
These treatments use the body’s immune system to attack cancer cells, potentially offering greater survival prospects, without the side-effects of traditional cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation.
While these treatments – characterised by medicines that have multiple indications – are a breakthrough in treating cancer, providing widespread access remains a challenge for our current systems. Often, only those with significant financial means can afford them.
Treatment approval turnaround times need to improve
Immunotherapy cancer treatments in Australia are currently assessed based on where in the body the cancer originated. Because immunotherapies can have multiple indications, every indication requires a separate submission as if it were a new medicine, thereby slowing down the approval process, and creating budget uncertainty for the government.
At present, it takes an estimated 597 days for new cancer drugs to be approved after registration, which is on average, 200 days longer than other disease areas.
The European perspective
However, our European counterparts have overcome similar challenges, by introducing Multi-Year Multi-Indication (MYMI) agreements. This innovative approach has resulted in:
- significant reductions in reimbursement approval times,
- reduced workload and time required for indication assessments,
- budget predictability for both payers and manufacturers,
- increased incentives to launch all indications as quickly as possible.
With cancer being one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in Australia, it’s imperative that we devise solutions that allow immunotherapies to reach Australians with cancer as quickly as possible, whilst maintaining budget predictability.