Wales will be the first place in the UK where patients with two rare forms of leukaemia will have access to Ariad Pharmaceutical’s Iclusig (ponatinib) on the National Health Service.

The Minister for Health and Social Services in Wales has confirmed the All Wales Medicines Strategy Group (AWMSG)’s approval of Iclusig (ponatinib) as a cost effective treatment for of all phases of chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) and Philadelphia chromosome positive acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (Ph+ ALL), in accordance with its licensed indication.

“Although the number of patients qualifying for treatment will be limited, access to Iclusig represents an opportunity to make a significant difference to their lives,” said David Ryner, Chair of the Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia Support Group, but he also noted “we would like to see the same opportunity made available to all other qualifying patients, no matter where they live in the UK”.

England's sister body the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence will not review the drug because of the small patient population, which means those affected have to apply through the Cancer Drugs Fund for access. The Scottish Medicines Consortium plans to review the drug soon.