New Hope for Australian sufferers of Ovarian Cancer and Soft Tissue Sarcoma

31 January 2017

TheSocialMedwork - a new "Dallas Buyers Club" style social enterprise which recently launched in Australia - is offering sufferers of Ovarian Cancer and Soft Tissue Sarcoma a silver lining to their treatment, by providing access to innovative, new US and European approved medical treatments that are currently not available here.

Provided that there is a doctor’s prescription, and that the medicine is for personal use, TheSocialMedwork works within the TGA’s personal importation scheme to help patients legally and safely source and import Rubraca (for advanced mutant BRCA Ovarian Cancer) and Lartruvo (for Soft Tissue Sarcoma, a cancer affecting soft tissue such as muscles, tendons and lymph vessels).

Rubraca (or Rucaparib) was approved by the FDA on December 19th, 2016; and Lartuvo (or Olaratumab) was approved by the FDA on October 19th, 2016 and the EMA on November 9th, 2016.

“Globally, around 50,000 women suffer from advanced mutant BRCA ovarian cancer – around 220 in Australia,” said My Sjaak Vink, Founder and Director of TheSocialMedwork. “Rubraca is a very innovative precision medicine, showing complete or partial shrinkage of the tumour with 54% of patients (SJAAK CAN WE GET A REFERENCE HERE PLEASE). TheSocialMedwork is pleased to be able to offer the medicine to Australian sufferers of this rare condition. “In addition, TheSocialMedwork can also now offer Australian patients Lartruvo for Soft Tissue Sarcoma,” continued Mr Vink. “In Australia there are around 1,500 patients per year. Clinical studies of Lartruvo show a 12 month+ survival rate.”

The Netherlands-based social enterprise has already helped patients in US, Europe, and China gain access to other potentially life-saving drugs via the respectively similar personal importation laws. Their doctor and pharmacist team regularly screens for the latest, most innovative therapeutics globally, only sourcing and delivering the ones that have been approved by reputable agencies such as the FDA and EMA, produced by the original manufacturer. They are able to deliver a therapeutic to patients in almost every country in the world within weeks of its original approval—approximately two years faster than the current estimated time it takes for it to become available in an Australian pharmacy.

Founder and CEO of The Social Medwork, Mr Sjaak Vink, set up the ground-breaking enterprise in 2014 after he witnessed a childhood friend pass away too early because he could not access new medicines that were already approved abroad. 

“Unfortunately patients aren’t getting their hands on the newest, most innovative treatments, because people are unaware of the personal importation scheme,” says co-founder Mr Sjaak Vink. “It can also be difficult to find a provider who is entitled and willing to source and ship a single therapeutic for one patient. This is really about putting power back into the hands of patients—these people have exhausted every possible treatment option in their home country, and for them, timing is everything.”

Unfortunately a truly globally harmonised approach to medicine approvals could take decades; in the meantime, this may some patients with a viable treatment option.

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