The UK National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has recommended AstraZeneca’s Calquence for use on the NHS to treat a common form of leukaemia.

NICE has recommended the twice-daily Calquence (Acalabrutinib) for the treatment of certain adult patients with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL).

It has been approved as monotherapy for CLL if there is a 17p deletion or TP53 mutation or if fludarabine plus cyclophosphamide and rituximab (FCR), or bendamustine plus rituximab (BR) is unsuitable.

The approval of Calquence will offer a new chemotherapy-free treatment option for these patients, which could be particularly useful during the COVID-19 pandemic as patients would less require hospital visits.

Patients experts involved in NICE’s consultation for the drug also highlighted that Calquence is well tolerated and causes fewer side effects compare to current treatments for CLL.

For a 30-day pack of Calquence 100mg tablets, the list price is £5,059 – although AZ has made the drug available to the NHS with a discount.

This appraisal only considered Calquence as monotherapy, as the company did not submit any data for the combination of this drug with another cancer treatment commonly used to treat CLL – Roche’s Gazyvaro (Obinutuzumab).