People suffering from multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer, will be able to get a new drug on the NHS after a deal was struck between the manufacturer and health officials.
Revlimid (lenalidomide) is a once-a-day pill that can be taken at home. Data published in 2007 in The New England Journal of Medicine showed that almost two out of three patients taking Revlimid plus another drug, dexamethasone, saw a substantial reduction or disappearance in the signs and symptoms of their cancer.
Yesterday, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) overturned its own preliminary recommendation and approved Revlimid in combination with dexamethasone for patients who have already tried two or more other therapies.
It comes after the drug maker, Celgene Ltd, proposed a cost-sharing scheme whereby the NHS funds the drug for the first two years and any further costs are met by the manufacturer. According to Celgene, clinical trials show that patients gain almost three extra years of life when treated with Revlimid compared with the current standard of care.
Almost 3,800 people are diagnosed with multiple myeloma in the UK each year and more than 2,400 die from the disease annually. Rachel Rowson, policy manager at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: "We are delighted that the manufacturer of Revlimid has decided to put patients before costs and will be making this treatment more affordable to the NHS. Revlimid can give some myeloma patients extra time which can be extremely valuable to them and their families."
Eric Low, chief executive of Myeloma UK, said: "This is a great win for myeloma patients and a good example of all stakeholders taking responsibility, overcoming barriers and finding a workable solution. I am delighted that the pressure Myeloma UK applied to the manufacturer helped bring about the reversal of the original decision.
"I applaud the efforts of the myeloma community, the manufacturer, Nice and the Department of Health in pursuing this win for patients. I now urge primary care trusts to implement this guidance as soon as possible."
Andrew Robertson, Celgene's general manager for the UK and Ireland, said: "We understand that time is a precious commodity for patients with multiple myeloma and we are committed to ensuring that the Revlimid treatment continuation scheme is successfully implemented so that all patients who can benefit will have rapid and sustained access to treatment."
Gareth Morgan, professor of haematology at the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, said: "The revised preliminary recommendation to make Revlimid available on the NHS is fantastic news for patients.
"Revlimid produces a remarkable effect on survival in this difficult-to-treat cancer and this turnaround is an excellent example of industry, Nice and the NHS working together for the benefit of patients."Reuse content