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NHS myeloma drug guidance agreed

30th January 2009

The government’s drug advisers have changed guidance on the use of a bone marrow cancer drug.

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The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) had rejected lenalidomide for multiple myeloma in England and Wales because it was not cost effective.

But that has now been changed after a cost-sharing deal was agreed.

Under revised draft guidance, the drug company picks up the £36,000 a year cost per patient after two years.

The latest recommendation, which will go out to consultation in February 20, is the first from NICE following new rules geared to amore flexible approach in judging treatments offering survival benefits in terminal conditions.

The deal sees lenalidomide, also known as Revlimid, available to be used in combination with dexamethasone in multiple myeloma patients who have received two or more prior therapies.

The NHS will pay for the drugs for two years. After that, the cost of funding treatment for anyone remaining on it - an estimated 17% of patients - will be picked up by the manufacturer, Celgene.

Professor Peter Littlejohns, clinical and public health director at NICE, said the drug had fitted the updated criteria for considering the benefits of a life-extending, end-of-life treatment.

Eric Lowe chief executive of Myeloma UK said it was good example of stakeholders finding a workable solution.

"I applaud the efforts of the myeloma community, the manufacturer, NICE and the Department of Health in pursuing this win for patients," he said.

Around 3,800 new cases of multiple myeloma occur in the UK every year.

 

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