Celgene’s multiple myeloma drug Imnovid is now available in Wales despite being rejected by NICE in England.

The All Wales Medicines Strategy Group (AWMSG) has recommended Imnovid (pomalidomide) in combination with dexamethasone for relapsed and refractory multiple myeloma patients who have received at least two prior treatments.

This approval was based on trial data demonstrating that the drug significantly improved progression-free survival (3.9 months for patients treated with Imnovid and dexamethasone versus 1.9 months for dexamethasone alone) and overall survival (12.7 months versus 5.7 months).

NICE rejected the drug in March this year, saying that analyses from Celgene “showed that it does not offer enough benefit to justify its high price”. This meant the drug has to remain funded by the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) – although it is currently being re-evaluated, which could lead to its delisting.

As the CDF is only available in England, this has meant that patients in Wales were unable to access the drug at all until now.

Although NICE guidance can apply in Wales, in November 2013 the AWMSG agreed to consider medicines which have previously received a negative recommendation from the Institute on the grounds of lack of cost-effectiveness, but which are funded in England via alternative commissioning routes.

The drug is also routinely available in Scotland. It was initially rejected by the Scottish Medicines Consortium, but was later approved after Celgene submitted a patient access scheme