Around 300 patients with multiple myeloma in Wales will get National Health Service access to treatment with Celgene's Revlimid after the drug was recommended for first-line use by cost regulators.
The All Wales Medicines Strategy Group (AWMSG) is supporting use of Revlimid (lenalidomide) in newly diagnosed multiple myeloma patients who are not eligible for transplant and are unsuitable for thalidomide-containing regimens.
The decision comes on the back of data showing that the drug, when used in combination with low-dose dexamethasone, significantly improved progression-free survival in patients treated continuously with the combination (26 months) in comparison with standard treatment (21.9 months).
"The recommendation from the AWMSG regarding access to Revlimid, in combination with dexamethasone, brings an important additional option to Welsh patients who have just received diagnosis of a largely incurable disease, and exemplifies the determination of the Welsh government in ensuring access to vital cancer medicines," noted Dr Ceri Bygrave, consultant haematologist at University Hospital of Wales.
"Revlimid in the newly diagnosed setting has demonstrated excellent effectiveness and can give patients who are ineligible for high-dose therapy and stem cell transplantation a much needed treatment option. As Revlimid is now approved in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, Myeloma UK will be working with Celgene and NICE to ensure access to this important treatment for patients living in England," added Myeloma UK policy and public affairs manager Kate Morgan.
The treatment was cleared by Scottish cost regulators for NHS use to treat patients with previously untreated multiple myeloma in December 2015, and in Northern Ireland in April this year. The NICE submission is currently on hold pending agreement of a patient access scheme with the Department of Health.