Myeloma patients in England are set to gain NHS access to a new second-line treatment combination following a first relapse of the disease.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence is now backing NHS use of Janssen’s Darzalex plus Velcade and dexamethasone (DVd) after first relapse of multiple myeloma, having previously turned down the combination in this setting.

According to Janssen, the combination boosts overall survival and slashes the risk of death by 50 percent in this set of patients. However, NICE says the size of the DVd’s benefit in the long-term is “unclear”, because currently available trial relate to a relatively short period of time.

Because of this, NHS funding for the combination is being recommended via the Cancer Drugs Fund.

“While it is positive news that patients will now be able to access DVd, it is disappointing that NICE – despite recognising the life-extending, step-change this combination represents for patients – did not recommend routine access on the NHS,” said Jennifer Lee, director of Health Economics, Market Access and Reimbursement (HEMAR) and Advocacy at Janssen.

“The parameters through which NICE determines uncertainty need urgent re-evaluation. We believe the additional data collected via the CDF will only further validate the long-term survival benefit already seen in this innovative combination. The CDF should be utilised how it was originally intended, where clinical evidence is less robust,” she argues.

Nevertheless, the decision will give up to 2,900 myeloma patients in England NHS access to what Janssen previously described as a “much-needed” new treatment option.