Newsletter: Winter 2021

Dear All

We are now certainly in the grip of a cold winter with many parts of the country experiencing significant snow conditions. I imagine that most of you will have had at least your first vaccination by now. There is some data that shows that myeloma patients are having sub optimal responses to the Pfizer vaccine and therefore it is likely that a booster at six months will be recommended.

I have recently received the April CaTSoP (Cancer Treatments Subcommittee) minutes from Pharmac which were very late in coming out. There was a lot of deliberation on myeloma drugs in various settings (ten in all). Our Myeloma interest group had put in several submissions and this was mentioned.

The good news is that both carfilzomib and pomalidomide have been given a high funding priority for use in second line treatment of relapsed/refractory disease. The other slight cause for hope for more frail patients was a medium priority rating for the use of lenalidomide with dexamethasone in initial treatment of transplant-ineligible patients. This news may seem hopeful but these decisions have to go to the PTAC (Pharmacology and Therapeutics Advisory Committee) meeting in November and then funding has to be agreed upon. It is therefore likely that there will be no progress until 2022, which is disappointing.

The Myeloma interest group of New Zealand haematologists will meet on August 12th and there will be a representative from Pharmac attending, so we will certainly convey our concerns about the glacial pace of progress.

In other news, we are excited to announce that a full-day national patient seminar on myeloma is to be held in Wellington on November 13th and further information will follow. Videos of our seminars in Auckland, Whangarei and Hamilton are available on our website here.

That’s all for now and let’s hope for some relief from the flooding and severe weather conditions. All the best.

Nga mihi,

Ken Romeril