Gilead has struck a deal with NHS England that allows some adults with lymphoma access to its “game-changing” CAR-T therapy Yescarta.

The agreement marks the first time adults will have access to CAR-T on the NHS, after NHS England reached a deal last month to make CAR-T available for children and young people with a rare form of leukaemia.

NHS England says Yescarta (axicabtagene ciloleucel), which was initially turned down for adults patients because it was too expensive, offers new hope for those whose large cell lymphoma has returned or has stopped responding to previous treatment.

The treatment is licenced to treat adults with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma and primary mediastinal B-cell lymphoma after two or more previous therapies failed, on the back of trials showing that the therapy could potentially cure 40% of patients.

Yescarta would have cost nearly £300,000 per patient at its full list price, but Gilead’s commercial agreement with NHS England has enabled NICE to approve its entry into NHS England’s Cancer Drugs Fund.

Up to 200 patients a year are now expected to receive the treatment via the NHS, according to NHS England.

“We are delighted to have been able to reach an agreement by working closely with NHS England and NICE which allows us to bring this new generation of personalised cancer treatment to patients,” said Hilary Hutton-Squire, general manager UK and Ireland, Gilead Sciences.

“The speed of this decision shows how research-based life-sciences companies and the NHS can partner together for the benefit of patients in the UK.”

“CAR-T therapies have shown huge promise in treating patients with lymphoma who have no other chance of cure,” added Dr Alasdair Rankin, director of Research and Patient Experience at Bloodwise.

“It’s admirable that the NHS has worked to make this pioneering treatment available so quickly, giving hope to hundreds of patients and their families.”

NHS England confirmed that preparations for administering CAR-T therapy are “near completion”, meaning that it will be made available “in the coming weeks” at the first sites in Birmingham, Bristol, London, Manchester and Newcastle.