Early Access Program Launched for Stage III Advanced Melanoma Patients
As of April 2nd, Health Canada approved pembrolizumab (Keytruda) for use in the adjuvant setting for fully resected stage III patients. While we are still waiting for recommendations from pCODR and subsequent price negotiations for provincial listing, this means that if you have private insurance you may have coverage for treatment. As well, the manufacturer of the therapy, Merck, is providing an early access program to cover patients in the interim that may not have full coverage from private insurance or no private coverage at all. This is incredibly positive news for this group of patients that had no effective treatment options beyond surgery, and yet were are potentially high risk for recurrence. It has the potential to significantly reduce the number of patients that may have had a recurrence of the disease, and will save lives. We are so pleased to communicate this news.
Provincial Listing of Nivolumab (Opdivo) and Ipilimumab (Yervoy) for Metastatic Melanoma
Price negotiations for the combination nivolumab plus ipilimumab, used for the treatment of unresectable or metastatic melanoma have finally concluded and provinces are in the process of listing this important therapy. We encourage each province to move quickly to adopt this regimen, so no patient will be without treatment access.
BC and Ontario have been first to list, which makes treatment available for those without private coverage, which is great news. It will be available for unresectable metastatic melanoma patients regardless of BRAF status. For the specifications and requirements of each province, please visit our website for updated information. As always, please check with your hospital care team to determine if this treatment is appropriate for you and the specific access requirements.
First in Kind Therapy for Advanced Cutaneous Squamous Cell Carcinoma Patients
For cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma patients (cSCC), there is good news that Health Canada has approved the use of a first in kind treatment for cSCC advanced patients. Cemiplimab (Libtayo) is a new immunotherapy drug known as a checkpoint inhibitor. It works by blocking a protein called PD-1 on certain immune cells and is for the treatment of patients with metastatic cSCC or locally advanced cSCC who are not candidates for curative surgery or curative radiation. Check with your healthcare team about coverage for this therapy. Provincial formulary coverage will be available down the road. MNC will be working with patients to provide a submission to support the access to this critical therapy. To learn more about cSCC, access the press release here