A view from the front line
Increased use of GCSFs (filgrastim and pegfilgrastim) has led to significantly improved health outcomes for cancer patients. That’s the finding of clinicians from MidCentral Regional Cancer Treatment Services, reported at the NZ Society for Oncology 2014 Conference.
Biosimilar competition meant PHARMAC could improve funded access to GCSFs, which are used to treat neutropaenia, or low white blood cell count, in people undergoing chemotherapy.
Neutropaenic fever is a serious condition which can cause chemotherapy delays or dose reductions which can compromise efficacy. In severe cases it can be fatal.
Dr Richard Isaacs, Medical Oncologist and Head of Department at MidCentral DHB, said GCSFs had previously been given to women only after they had experienced an episode of neutropaenic fever. After the 2012 funding change, the MidCentral Service began giving GCSFs to all women receiving high-risk chemotherapy to prevent neutropaenic fever.
“The impact of this change for patients and hospitals has been dramatic,” says Dr Isaacs. “Previously around one third of women receiving docetaxel-based chemotherapy suffered from neutropeanic fever. We now see it in less than 7 percent.”
“To put this in context, for every 100 women treated we now avoid 25 of them experiencing neutropaenic fever.”
“The introduction of lower cost biosimilar filgrastim and the subsequent price reduction on pegfilgrastim means we use fewer hospital resources and deliver optimal chemotherapy more safely to more women with breast cancer.”
(Originally published in 2014 Year in Review)
Last updated: 25 October 2019