Advances in cancer treatment have seen the development of medicines known as targeted or biological therapies which can help to slow the growth of cancer cells.
Gazyva is a targeted therapy which has been used in the treatment of people with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia who have not had any other kind of treatment for their disease.
Gazyva is registered for use in New Zealand, GAZYVA is a funded medicine for first line CLL under Special Authority for patients who meet predefined criteria. GAZYVA is unfunded for NHL. For patients who do not meet the predefined criteria there is a Cost Share Programme available.
You can find out more about Gazyva on these pages. Gazyva is not suitable for everyone, so it’s important that you speak with your doctor about whether this medication may be right for you.
On these pages you can learn more about:
- How Gazyva Works
- How Gazyva May Help You
- The Side-Effects of Gazyva
- The Cost of Gazyva
- Roche’s Cost Share Programme for Gazyva
- Talking to Your Doctor About Whether Gazyva is Right for You.
Gazyva (also known as obinutuzumab) is used in combination with a chemotherapy, called chlorambucil, to treat people with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia who have not had any other kind of treatment for the disease.
Gazyva works by targeting and attaching to a certain protein on the surface of white blood cells or lymphocytes. It then works to destroy the cancer cells at the same time as encouraging your immune system to destroy the cancer cells.
Gazyva targets lymphocytes with cancer and those without, so it will destroy all lymphocytes with the protein on the surface. Over time new lymphocytes generated in your bone marrow will replace the destroyed lymphocytes.
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Studies have looked at how well GAZYVA works in people with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia. This research is ongoing and there’s still a lot more to discover.
However, studies to date have shown that GAZYVA taken together with chlorambucil can help some people with this kind of leukaemia.
In one study, GAZYVA combined with chlorambucil chemotherapy resulted in patients living on average 51 months without their cancer needing further treatment.1,2
This is sometimes referred to as remission. Partial remission means the cancer is greatly improved, but the cancer remains in the body. Complete remission means all evidence of the cancer is gone for a period of time.
One in five patients who took GAZYVA with chlorambucil chemotherapy went into complete remission for a period of time.1
The results will not be the same for everyone. You will need to speak to your doctor about whether GAZYVA is right for you.
How is GAZYVA Given?
GAZYVA is given as an IV infusion (a drip into a vein) together with a chemotherapy medicine called chlorambucil. This usually takes place in the cancer department at a hospital or clinic.
In the first cycle, four infusions of GAZYVA are given. In cycles 2 to 6, GAZYVA is usually given once every 28 days. The infusion generally takes between three to six hours. A full GAZYVA course involves a total of 6 cycles (or rounds) of treatment and a total of 9 infusions with rest periods in between. The complete course of treatment is given over 6 months.
Before the infusion, medicines may be given to help reduce possible side-effects during the infusion.
GAZYVA is an effective treatment for patients with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia but it may have some unwanted side-effects in some people.
All medicines can have side-effects. Sometimes they are serious, most of the time they are not. You may need medical treatment if you get some of the side-effects. Ask your medical team to answer any questions you may have.
The side-effects of GAZYVA are most common during your first treatment. Your doctor or nurse may give you medicines before your treatment to help reduce possible side-effects during the infusion.
Because GAZYVA is given with other medicines that treat chronic lymphocytic leukaemia, it may be difficult to for your doctor to tell whether the side-effects are due to GAZYVA or not.
Your medical team is in the best position to help you manage any side-effects so be open with them about any symptoms you notice, whether or not you think they are caused by the medicine.
If you want to find out more about GAZYVA-related side effects, please look at the GAZYVA Consumer Medicines Information. In the Consumer Medicines Information, look at:
GAZYVA is publicly funded by PHARMAC for CLL under Special Authority. If you fall outside predefined criteria for Special Authority, you will have to pay for this medicine. This is a big decision and will obviously have an impact on you and your loved ones.
You will want to make this decision with your friends and family and you may want to explore other funding options, such as health insurance or fundraising programmes.
The exact cost of treatment with GAZYVA will depend on a number of factors and a private specialist will need to advise you on this. However, you can expect to pay around $47,280 plus GST* for a standard course of GAZYVA. A private specialist will need to advise you on this. This is the cost without the Cost Share Programme.
If you have GAZYVA at a private treatment centre, you may also need to pay for your specialist’s appointments, other treatments such as chemotherapy, and the administration of these.
For more information on costs and Cost Share Programmes, click here.
The cost of GAZYVA may play a big part in whether or not you decide to have this treatment. Be sure to discuss all the pros and cons with your doctor, family, and support network.
*Price as at 1 February 2016.
Roche has a Cost Share Programme to help with the cost of GAZYVA for those who need it. Find out more.
Deciding whether to pay for treatment is a big decision and it’s one that requires careful thought.
GAZYVA is not a cure, but it may give you more time before your cancer grows and spreads. For many people, GAZYVA may be able to offer a few extra months and for others it may be able to offer more.
Speak with your doctor about your specific case and the pros and cons of taking GAZYVA. It will not be right for everyone and your doctor will need to ask you a number of questions to see if it’s suitable for you.
If you’re not sure how to have this discussion with your doctor, we’ve developed a list of common questions which might help you. Have a look at these here.
If you’re considering GAZYVA and you want to want to know more about private providers, you can check out a list here.