Great news for CLL patients

I was very pleased to hear the news last week that PHARMAC had approved funding for MabThera (rituximab), for patients with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL).

This is just great for CLL patients, a real breakthrough for them and their families, as CLL has been pretty challenging to treat.

For these patients MabThera offers real hope, providing longer remissions, extended survival and a better quality of life.  This should give good encouragement to the 140 New Zealanders who are diagnosed with CLL each year.

While I’m really very heartened to see that PHARMAC has recently approved funding for several specialised cancer medicines in haematology, and I hope this trend continues, we know it is challenging to evaluate and fund drugs to meet the needs of cancer patients in New Zealand.  I still do have reservations about the ability of the PHARMAC to move in a timely and transparent manner. It will also be interesting to see how the newly proposed Exceptional Circumstances funding will work.  For more on this see my previous blog.

Another great thing that has happened at the Leukaemia & Blood Foundation (LBF) this week is the response we’ve been receiving to our request for patient stories to promote World Lymphoma Awareness Day (WLAD) on 15 September.  I’m absolutely thrilled that a number of people have come forward, keen to tell their stories, which is often not an easy thing to do.  We know people find it very helpful to read about others experiences.

WLAD is a very important way for us to raise awareness about lymphoma, and we couldn’t do it without the help of these wonderful patients.  There’s nothing more powerful than hearing about what they have been through in their own words.

Awareness around lymphoma is really important both amongst the general public and GPs as although it’s the sixth most common cancer in New Zealand, and the most common form of cancer in 15 to 24 year olds,  we know that around 90% of New Zealanders know very little about this disease and its symptoms.

If you or someone you know is living with lymphoma, we’d love to hear from you! Please contact Georgie Hackett our Communications & Media Relations Manager on 0800 15 10 15 (option one) or georgie@leukaemia.org.nz.

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