The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has announced the recommendation of Amgen’s Blincyto (blinatumomab) for treating acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL). The indication is for patients in first complete remission with minimal residual disease (MRD) activity of at least 0.1%.

This decision to recommend the drug as a cost-effective use of NHS resources follows the submission of new evidence from the company during consultation on earlier draft recommendations.

Amgen has a confidential commercial arrangement which will make the drug available to the NHS with a discount.

The use of Blincyto compared to continued chemotherapy may reduce MRD and help increase the time people have without their disease relapsing. People with lower MRD levels have a higher chance of their disease being cured after stem cell transplantation.

Administration is by continuous intravenous infusion delivered at a constant rate using an infusion pump. A single cycle of the treatment comprises continuous intravenous infusion at a dose of 28 micrograms/day for 28 days, followed by a 14‑day treatment-free interval.

Currently treatment options for this type of leukaemia include, as a first step, chemotherapy. Next, depending on donor availability, personal fitness and preference, patients can have potentially curative stem cell transplantation.

ALL is a type of cancer that affects the white blood cells causing the bone marrow to make too many lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell). This particular form of ALL is very rare, with just 102 people predicted to be eligible for treatment with the newly recommended treatment every year.