The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has published draft guidance recommending Janssen-Cilag’s Velcade (bortezomib) as a treatment for some patients with newly-diagnosed multiple myeloma.

In a Final Appraisal Determination (FAD), NICE recommends Velcade’s use in combination with dexamethasone, or with dexamethasone and thalidomide, for the induction treatment of adult patients with previously-untreated multiple myeloma who are eligible for high-dose chemotherapy with bone marrow transplant.

Multiple myeloma is the second most-common type of bone marrow cancer, with around 4,700 people in the UK diagnosed each year, most commonly in those aged over 65.

Commenting on the draft recommendation, NICE chief executive Sir Andrew Dillon pointed out that there is currently no cure for the disease, only treatments to stop its progress and help relieve symptoms, and that NICE is “very pleased” to propose adding Velcade to the number of treatments for different stages of the disease.

“Clinical specialists told the committee that the induction treatment with bortezomib would enable a greater number of patients to proceed to a bone transplant and consequently prevent the disease from progressing for longer,” he said.

Peter Barnes, medical director at Janssen in the UK, said the firm “is pleased with the FAD for bortezomib in the induction setting. This builds on the well-recognised utility of bortezomib in other stages of multiple myeloma. Haematology is an area where there continues to be unmet medical need, and remains an important focus in our research efforts to bring new treatment options to patients,” he said.

The decision has also been welcomed by Eric Low, chief executive of Myeloma UK has “fantastic news for myeloma patients in England and Wales.”

“Clinicians can now choose between at least three options, enabling them to tailor treatment to best suit the clinical situation at hand and also to reflect patient preference. We are grateful to NICE and all the stakeholders, especially Janssen, who worked closely together alongside Myeloma UK to ensure a positive outcome,” said Mr Low.

- In a negative Appraisal Consultation Document (ACD) issued last November, NICE had asked for further evidence on Velcade’s clinical and cost effectiveness in combination with dexamethasone compared with current standard treatment. The Institute already recommends Velcade monotherapy as an option for the treatment of progressive multiple myeloma in people who are at first relapse having received one prior therapy and who have undergone, or are unsuitable for, bone marrow transplantation.