The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has published draft guidelines recommending 'routine' use of Celgene's Imnovid on the NHS in England and Wales to treat some patients with multiple myeloma.

This is particularly good news for patients given that original NICE guideline on Imnovid (pomalidomide), published last year, rejected the drug for those with relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma who have had two previous treatments.

Since then the firm has submitted new data including updated comparisons of the drug with other treatments, which led the Committee to conclude that Imnovid, in combination with dexamethasone, can be considered a clinically and cost effective use of NHS resources in people whose disease had relapsed after three prior treatments, including lenalidomide and bortezomib.

The drug costs on average £44,420 for a course of treatment, but the NHS will pay less than this as the company has offered a confidential discount on its list price.

Welcoming the decision, Myeloma UK chief executive Eric Low said: "This is brilliant news for myeloma patients in England. Pomalidomide is an effective drug that will fill a major gap in the treatment pathway for patients at third relapse and beyond".

But he also stressed that relapsed patients have not been able to access Imnovid at a critical time in their disease progression since it was delisted from the Cancer Drugs Fund in September last year. "So, whilst we appreciate that the collaboration between Celgene and NICE has had a positive result, this has been a long and drawn out appraisal process from which lessons can be learned".

NICE says that around 630 patients would be eligible for treatment with this drug a year.