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Monday 24th October 2016

Reduce cancer drug cost call

28th October 2008

Patient support groups have called on a pharmaceutical manufacturer to reduce the price of a myeloma (bone marrow cancer) drug so it can be provided by the health service.


Bone marrow cancer affects around 20,000 people in the UK.

The drug, lenalidomide (Revlimid), was not approved to treat the cancer by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).

Three groups - Myeloma UK, Macmillan Cancer Support and Leukaemia CARE - want manufacturer Janssen-Cilag to offer discounts or refunds when the treatment is not successful.

This kind of system is already in place for another myeloma drug called Velcade. The health service will only fund the treatment (at a cost of around £18,000 for each patient) when patients respond to it.

Those patients who do not respond to the drug stop taking it and Janssen-Cilag refunds the cost.

The patient groups want this system to be put in place for lenalidomide. The treatment's cost come in at about £4,500 per month.

Eric Low, chief executive of Myeloma UK, said: "NICE is explicit in its draft recommendation that Revlimid is clinically effective."

He said that patients lost out because NICE and the manufacturer were locked into "a game of professional one-upmanship."

"There is now a window of opportunity for NICE and the company to demonstrate they are capable of dealing with a complex appraisal and righting this wrong decision for patients," he added.

NICE is due to carry out a consultation on funding for the drug by mid-Novemeber and will release its final decision in January 2009.

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