NHS strikes deal for cutting edge cancer treatment for adults with lymphoma

Five city hospitals to give therapy to people who may otherwise have just months to live

Friday 05 October 2018 00:01 BST
Up to 200 patients a year are expected to benefit from the NHS deal
Up to 200 patients a year are expected to benefit from the NHS deal (istock)

Patients with a type of cancer who have just months to live are to have access to a “game-changing” new treatment on the NHS in England, health chiefs say.

Up to 200 adults a year with a form of lymphoma will be able to receive the therapy as hospitals in Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester, London and Newcastle prepare to provide it.

The treatment offers new hope to patients with cancer of the lymphatic system who have run out of other options, experts believe.

CAR-T therapy, also known as Yescarta, is described as “one of the most promising new treatments in a generation for lymphoma and leukaemia”.

It is a personalised treatment that reprograms immune system cells to target the cancer.

Clinical trials suggest the treatment, which would normally cost nearly £300,000 a person, could potentially cure around four in 10 patients, according to NHS England.

Yescarta is licensed to treat adult patients with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma and primary mediastinal B-cell lymphoma who have had two unsuccessful chemotherapy treatments, NHS bosses say.

NHS England and drugs manufacturer Gilead Sciences struck the deal to provide the CAR T-cell therapy axicabtagene ciloleucel.

Treatments will continue to improve and become more effective

Alasdair Rankin

The therapy was previously available only to patients in Europe through clinical trials.

Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said: “CAR T-cell therapy is one of the most promising new treatments in a generation for lymphoma and leukaemia, and NHS patients will now be among the first in the world to benefit.

“The NHS has world-leading clinicians, researchers and scientists, and today’s announcement is proof positive that we are open to constructive and flexible partnerships with industry that rapidly bring life sciences innovation to NHS patients in a way that is also fair to British taxpayers.”

Dr Alasdair Rankin, director of research and patient experience at charity Bloodwise, said: “It’s admirable that the NHS has worked to make this pioneering treatment available so quickly, giving hope to hundreds of patients and their families.

“It is likely that we are only beginning to see the benefits that CAR-T therapy can bring.

“Treatments will continue to improve and become more effective over the coming decade and will benefit patients with other types of cancer.”

Last month, a separate deal was secured to make a form of CAR-T therapy available to children and young people with a rare type of leukaemia.

The Press Association contributed to this report

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