Gilead’s CAR T-cell therapy Yescarta will be available on the NHS to some adults with lymphoma.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence says the treatment can be funded via the Cancer Drugs Fund for adults with relapsed or refractory diffuse large B-cell lymphoma or primary mediastinal large B-cell lymphoma, two aggressive subtypes of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Yescarta (axicabtagene-ciloleucel) will be offered to people whose disease has not responded after two or more rounds of chemotherapy or relapsed after a stem cell transplant.

The Institute initially rejected the drug for being too expensive, but a subsequent confidential commercial deal between NHS England and Gilead group Kite has increased its potential cost effectiveness.

“As we prepare to publish the NHS’s long term plan, this constructive and fast-track negotiation shows how the NHS is leading from the front by ensuring patients in England are among the first in the world to benefit from this immensely promising treatment,” said John Stewart, NHS England’s director of specialised commissioning.

Around 200 people each year in England will be eligible treatment with Yescarta, which will be available at seven hospitals as the service is rolled out across the country.

NICE said NHS England is working closely with the sites to “ensure the clinical, technical and operational requirements are in place to provide this new, complex treatment”.

“It is great to see that NHS England is preparing to deliver CAR T-cell therapy as quickly as possible and we hope that people can start treatment soon,” said Meindert Boysen, director of the Centre for Health Technology Evaluation, NICE.

“The final positive guidance on Yescarta is a major milestone for adult patients living with aggressive forms of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), who may have run out of effective treatment options and who therefore only have months to live. For the first time, these patients will be able to access CAR T on the NHS,” said Hilary Hutton-Squire, general manager, Gilead Sciences UK & Ireland.

“We are delighted that we have been able to work with NHS England and NICE to accelerate the decision-making process and bring this new generation of innovative cell therapy to the UK. We will now continue to work closely with NHS England on preparing services so that this therapy can be made available to patients who need it most, across the country and as quickly as possible.”