18 March 2005



·             Severely ill melanoma patients are being denied potentially life-saving treatment while the State Government dithers over a measly $100,000.


No Pokies MLC Nick Xenophon has called on the State Government to “immediately and urgently” fund a ground-breaking melanoma vaccine trial, which has shown remarkable promise – yet has been starved of the $100,000 needed for it to continue.

The funding is needed to continue treating cancer patients with a melanoma vaccine, which had been trialled by the University of Adelaide at the Royal Adelaide Hospital .

Twenty patients had undergone treatment as part of the trial and of those 16 patients had improvements in their condition, while the melanoma was stopped completely in its tracks in four of the patients.  But funding for the trials ended in 2004 and both the State and Federal Governments have so far refused to pick up the bill.       

Now, without urgent funding 12 patients who are currently on a waiting list to receive the vaccine will miss out on the chance to access this potentially-life saving treatment.

Urgent requests to State Health Minister Lea Stevens for assistance have not been acted on.

But No Pokies MLC Nick Xenophon is appealing to State Health Minister Lea Stevens to stop passing the buck to the Federal Government and urgently address the funding shortfall.

“It’s pathetic the State Government can’t cough up $100,000 for this life-saving treatment out of a total heath budget of $2.659 billion – that’s just 0.0037 per cent“

“Lea Stevens has known about this shortfall for months and has sat on her hands in relation to funding. Some of these people have a life expectancy of only around three months from the time the melanoma is detected.

“We simply don’t have the time to pass the buck on this issue.”

“The research team at Adelaide University desperately wants to continue the trial to establish why it has been so effective in treating late stage melanoma cases and whether its application should be more widespread.”

The media conference today will hear from two patients whose lives have been saved by the vaccine, and two patients who are desperate to get on the treatment trial.


Written and authorised by Nick Xenophon, 653 Lower North East Road, Paradise, SA 5075