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Melanoma New Zealand delighted with OPDIVO registration

2 May 2016

Melanoma New Zealand delighted with OPDIVO registration

Melanoma New Zealand is delighted that anti-PD1 immunotherapy OPDIVO (Nivolumab) has been approved by Medsafe and is now a registered medicine in New Zealand.

Chief Executive Officer of Melanoma New Zealand, Linda Flay, says: “This is an important step for New Zealanders given that we have the highest incidence rate of melanoma in the world, and more than 300 New Zealanders lose their lives every year from melanoma.

“More than 4,500 new cases of melanoma are diagnosed in New Zealand each year. Of those classified as stage four, they currently have a life expectancy of around six to nine months.

"This is the second drug in this class to be registered in the last 12 months, and at last we are beginning to see new treatments coming through with immunotherapy drugs finally bringing hope to patients.”

Melanoma New Zealand Board Member, Dr Rosalie Fisher, says: “Immune checkpoint inhibition is currently the most effective treatment for malignant melanoma.

“OPDIVO shrinks or stabilises melanoma tumours in the majority of patients with advanced melanoma, and unequivocally lengthens the survival of these patients. More than one-third of patients treated with OPDIVO are still alive more than five years after starting treatment.

“These results are exceptional. It is disappointing that the only funded treatment in New Zealand is chemotherapy, which is usually ineffectual and now considered obsolete by international standards.

“OPDIVO works by blocking a specific protein, PD-1, unmasking the tumour and allowing the body’s own immune system to fight the cancer. It is safe and well-tolerated and promises long-term control of this difficult disease”

Mrs Flay adds: “While registration is a great step, it is vital patients now get funded access to an immunotherapy treatment.”

OPDIVO is currently under review by PHARMAC. It is the second anti-PD1 medicine to be registered in New Zealand and is already registered and/or in routine use in Australia, European Union, Japan and the United States


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