Cost regulators for the NHS are recommending that three new types of treatment for people with blood cancer are made available on the NHS England and Wales.
Teva’s Trisenox (arsenic trioxide) has been approved for patients with a sub-type of myeloid leukaemia called acute promyelocytic leukaemia (APL), diagnosed in around 170 people each year in the UK.
The current standard of care is trans retinoic acid (ATRA) in combination with intensive chemotherapy, but chemotherapy can have “grueling” short-term side effects including severe nausea, hair loss and reduced immunity - leading to serious infections and long periods in hospital, noted UK charity Bloodwise.
In clinical trials, patients with APL who have low-risk disease have been successfully treated with ATRA and Trisenox, thus removing the need for intensive chemotherapy.
Novartis Rydapt (midostaurin) has been backed for patients with acute myeloid leukaemia who have mutations to the FLT3 gene, after an initial negative decision by NICE in December last year.
Around 2,500 people are diagnosed AML every year, and less than one in five will survive for longer than five years.
First-in-class therapy Rydapt has been shown to significantly improve survival and reduce relapse rates, and can be taken as maintenance treatment for a year after chemotherapy treatment has finished.
In clinical trials, the drug was linked with a 22 percent reduction in the risk of death compared with chemotherapy alone.
Seattle Genetics’ Adcetris (brentuximab) will be routinely available for patients with Hodgkin lymphoma who do not respond to chemotherapy.
NICE is approving funding for use of the drug in patients with classical Hodgkin lymphoma whose disease returns after, or is resistant to, two types of chemotherapy and who are not able to undergo additional chemotherapy or a stem cell transplant.
Adcetris has been available to this subset for patients in England for the past five years via the Cancer Drugs Fund.
Routine availability of these three medicines on the NHS “offers hope to patients with three different types of blood cancer – with approvals of targeted therapies that for some will reduce the chances of relapse and for others will offer the chance of a long-term cure or the reduction of the severe side-effects connected to traditional treatments,” said Dr Alasdair Rankin, director of Research and Patient Experience at Bloodwise.
“For the past 30 years, treatments for leukaemia have changed very little. With our positive recommendations we are pleased to offer patients more treatments than ever before,” added Meindert Boysen, director of the NICE centre for health technology evaluation.