All Australian governments have agreed to fund Roche’s Hemlibra (also known as emicizumab) under the national blood arrangements. This follows consideration of a proposal from Roche by the National Blood Authority (NBA) in accordance with Schedule 4 of the National Blood Agreement, including an assessment by the Medical Services Advisory Committee (MSAC) to ensure comparative safety, clinical effectiveness, and cost effectiveness.
Hemlibra is a new type of blood-related product to be used for prophylaxis therapy for adult and paediatric patients with severe and moderate haemophilia A who would otherwise suffer life threatening, severely disabling internal bleeding, or recurrent joint damage. Currently, people with severe or moderate haemophilia A are usually treated with the clotting factor VIII (FVIII) multiple times a week to reduce rates of bleeding (prophylaxis), or when they have bleeding (treatment on demand). Factor VIII therapy requires frequent confronting and invasive intravenous infusions, and can also lead to the development of antibody responses (known as inhibitors) which inhibit its effectiveness and subsequently require treatment with alternative high-cost bypassing agent products.
MSAC has recommended public funding of Hemlibra under the national blood arrangements to prevent or reduce the frequency of bleeding in severe or moderate haemophilia A patients, or in haemophilia A patients with inhibitors.
The MSAC assessment concluded that Hemlibra works better than current clotting factor and bypassing agent products, reduces the incidence of bleeding events for patients, and reduces the need for the use of additional blood products when patients have problems with inhibitors. Hemlibra is easier to administer and provides the significant advantage of less intrusive subcutaneous administration either once per week, every two weeks, or every four weeks.
The NBA is currently in the process of finalising contractual and implementation arrangements with Roche. The supply of Hemlibra through the national blood arrangements administered by the NBA will ensure patients and clinicians have holistic and consistent national access to therapies for haemophilia A. Hemlibra will be prescribed by a specialist clinician in a recognised Haemophilia Treatment Centre, which will continue to provide coordinated access consistent with the current framework for access to therapies for haemophilia.
Supply of Hemlibra under NBA arrangements is expected to commence by December 2020. The supply of current FVIII and bypassing agent products under the national blood arrangements will also continue. Current services to provide local delivery for patients administering clotting factor products at home under the clinical management of a Haemophilia Treatment Centre will be extended to Hemlibra, primarily through local pharmacy arrangements.
The prescription of appropriate treatments for patients with haemophilia is a clinical matter which should be discussed between a patient (or their carer) and a specialist clinician in a recognised Haemophilia Treatment Centre. Clinical guidance for the use of Hemlibra, taking into account MSAC recommendations, will be provided by the Australian Haemophilia Centre Director’s Organisation (AHCDO). The Clinical Advisory Group of AHCDO will be available to provide peer advice to Haemophilia Treatment Centre clinicians considering the transition of relevant patients to Emicizumab.
The NBA will consult with AHCDO, the Haemophilia Foundation Australia (HFA), and the Australian Haemophilia Nurses Group (AHNG), on transition arrangements for the introduction of Hemlibra. Transition arrangements will take account of the need for appropriate clinical oversight of transitioning patients, and the efficient use of stock already held by Haemophilia Treatment Centres and patients.
The Australian Bleeding Disorders Registry (ABDR) and the MyABDR App should be used to record the use of Hemlibra by patients in Australia, and will be modified for this purpose. The NBA will utilise data recorded in the ABDR for supply planning purposes, and to monitor utilisation and cost in order to confirm the benefits of the new therapy over time.
The NBA website will be updated with further information on arrangements for the supply of Hemlibra, once these arrangements are finalised.