Hope for new drug

Benalla Ensign - - Front Page - By Monique Freer

Be­nalla mother Kate Wag­ner is one step closer to re­ceiv­ing po­ten­tially life­sav­ing med­i­ca­tion af­ter Aus­tralian med­i­cal au­thor­i­ties granted ac­cess to an ex­per­i­men­tal me­lanoma drug.

Af­ter pleas from cancer pa­tients, their fam­i­lies and med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als, the Ther­a­peu­tic Goods Ad­min­is­tra­tion last week granted ad­vanced me­lanoma pa­tients ac­cess to a limited amount of the PD-1 drug, MK-3475.

Mrs Wag­ner was di­ag­nosed with stage four metastatic me­lanoma last July, one week af­ter giv­ing birth to her son Ma­clan.

Af­ter doc­tors found two tu­mours in her brain and two in her right lung she had two cran­iotomies and whole-brain ra­di­a­tion, in an­tic­i­pa­tion of be­gin­ning a clin­i­cal trial of the break­through new me­lanoma drug.

How­ever as the dis­ease pro­gressed the clin­i­cal trial closed, leav­ing her with­out ac­cess to the med­i­ca­tion.

In­stead Mrs Wag­ner be­gan treat­ment on Yer­voy — which has just a 20 per cent suc­cess rate — and be­gan cam­paign­ing for Aus­tralian ac­cess to the PD-1 drug.

The Be­nalla mother is yet to know whether she will have ac­cess to the drug that was hailed as a break­through in the United States.

‘‘While I felt in­tense re­lief when I found out ac­ces­si­bil­ity for Aus­tralians was to be­come re­al­ity, my feel­ings were some­what mixed,’’ Mrs Wag­ner said.

‘‘I am still a few weeks away from know­ing if I am el­i­gi­ble to re­ceive the drug as I must first wait to fin­ish the cur­rent treat­ment I am re­ceiv­ing. When and if I do be­come el­i­gi­ble, there is no word yet on how many places are avail­able and in­deed how long the spon­sored as­pect of the pro­gram will run.’’

The pro­gram is now open for ap­pli­ca­tion, and Mrs Wag­ner said if and when she got the drug de­pended on sev­eral fac­tors.

‘‘How long it takes to ac­tu­ally re­ceive MK-3475 will de­pend on the in­di­vid­ual cir­cum­stances of the pa­tient, and how quickly their on­col­o­gist sub­mits their in­for­ma­tion,’’ she said.

‘‘I’m ex­cited for my fel­low late-stage sufferers and their fam­i­lies, but ner­vous for my own — and I will stay that way un­til I have the nee­dle in my arm.’’

Al­though she faces a ner­vous wait un­til that time, Mrs Wag­ner said the de­ci­sion brought her a sense of per­sonal ac­com­plish­ment.

‘‘It val­i­dates all of those nights where I set my alarm for 3 amto make the calls to the US, the con­stant flow of emails and calls my to own cancer cen­tre here in Aus­tralia and all of the at­tempts made by me and my won­der­fully sup­port­ive friends to get this is­sue heard via ra­dio, tele­vi­sion, print and so­cial me­dia,’’ she said.

This Sun­day Kate’s friends and fam­ily will host ‘Shave or Colour for Kate’ to raise funds for the Wag­n­ers. The event will be held at Farm­ers Arms Ho­tel from 11.30 am, with a sausage siz­zle and auc­tion.

●Mrs Wag­ner’s mother Lois Jack­son and step­daugh­ter Lizzy Wag­ner are among those who will shave their heads. To do­nate goods, ser­vices or vouch­ers, phone Julie Har­ri­son on 0422 367 766 or email ju­mit954@hot­mail.com or phone Re­nata Car­mody on 0488 139 481. To reg­is­ter to shave or colour your hair, phone Sam Elen­it­sas be­fore June 1 on 0403 518 349.

Good news at last: Kate Wag­ner, pic­tured with chil­dren Ma­clan and Eve, will find out in the com­ing weeks whether she will have ac­cess to break­through me­lanoma med­i­ca­tion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.