Venclexta PBS listed as first line therapy for Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia patients unfit for chemotherapy

  • VENCLEXTA plus obinutuzumab is a combination, fixed duration therapy for previously untreated patients with CLL who are unfit for chemotherapy
  • VENCLEXTA was developed out of the Australian discovery that a protein called BCL-2 helps CLL cells survive. Blocking this protein helps to kill and reduce the number of these cancer cells(1)
  • Over 1,800 people are predicted to be diagnosed with CLL in Australia this year making it the most common type of leukaemia diagnosed in Australia
  • Monday 30 November 2020, Sydney – AbbVie (NYSE: ABBV) Australia has welcomed the Government’s announcement that Venclexta® (venetoclax) in combination with obinutuzumab will be available to eligible Australians with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia (CLL) as a first line therapy via the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) from the 1st December 2020. This PBS listing will allow CLL patients who cannot be treated with standard chemotherapy-based treatments to have affordable access to this first line combination treatment.

    Venclexta in combination with obinutuzumab is a targeted, 12-month duration treatment that is to be reimbursed for patients with previously untreated CLL, who are unfit for conventional chemotherapy. (1,5)

    Venclexta works by blocking a protein in the body (BCL-2) that helps these cancer cells survive. Blocking this protein helps to kill and reduce the number of cancer cells. It is an oral tablet that can be taken daily in combination with intravenous obinutuzumab.(1)

    The Government’s reimbursement of this combination as a first-line treatment reflects the continued effort to expand access to the range of targeted cancer treatments available to patients with blood cancer.

    According to Professor Stephen Opat, Director of Clinical Haematology at Monash Health Haematology, this PBS listing widens access to affordable treatment for eligible CLL patients who cannot be treated with conventional chemo-based therapies.

    “Historically chemotherapy has been the most common starting point to treat blood cancer, but unfortunately there are several patients that are unfit or can’t tolerate these agents due to side effects. Expanding the list of available treatments, especially targeted therapies, is now the focus area for healthcare. The Government’s commitment to improve access to innovative medicines means clinicians can now explore a range of options for patients,” said Professor Opat.

    Venclexta was developed as part of a research collaboration between AbbVie, Genentech, a member of the Roche Group of Companies, and the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne, Australia. (3)

    Professor John Seymour, MBBS, Director of Clinical Haematology at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and Royal Melbourne Hospital, says the new listing for the locally discovered treatment is a positive development for cancer patients.

    “This reimbursement represents another important milestone for Australia. Venclexta is the result of 30 years of research and collaboration. It is positive to see that this home grown discovery has now evolved into a medicine that more Australians can have funded access to,” said Professor Seymour.

    Chris Stemple, General Manager at AbbVie Australia, commended the Government’s move to fund Venclexta in combination with obinutuzumab.

    “We are proud that from today, eligible Australians with CLL will have reimbursed access to Venclexta earlier in their treatment cycle. Its listing reflects a change towards earlier use of targeted medicines in the treatment of CLL. We hope this paves the way for continued innovation of first-line therapies, not only in blood cancer but for other types of cancer,” said Mr Stemple.

    About VENCLEXTA®

    VENCLEXTA® is a prescription medicine used to treat adults with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia (CLL) or small lymphocytic lymphoma (SLL), conditions where the blood and bone marrow or lymph nodes contain too many of a type of white blood cells. The active substance in this medicine is called venetoclax.

    VENCLEXTA in combination with rituximab is indicated for the treatment of adult patients with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) who have received at least one prior therapy.

    VENCLEXTA monotherapy is indicated for the treatment of:

    • patients with relapsed or refractory CLL with 17p deletion, or
    • patients with relapsed or refractory CLL for whom there are no other suitable treatment options.

    VENCLEXTA in combination with obinutuzumab will be listed on the PBS from the 1st December 2020 for the treatment of eligible patients with CLL or small lymphocytic leukaemia (SLL) as a first line therapy who are considered unfit or unsuitable for chemo-immunotherapy. (1,5)

    All medicines have risks and benefits and may impact people in different ways. Refer to the Consumer Medicines Information (CMI) which can be located at and your doctor

    /Public Release.