Chronic myeloid leukaemia therapy Scemblix receives NICE final draft recommendation in Britain

Novartis has announced that eligible patients in England and Wales will soon have routine access to Scemblix – also known as asciminib. The therapy becomes the first specifically targeting abl myristoyl pocket (STAMP) inhibitor for patients with chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML).

The news also comes as the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) publishes its final appraisal recommending the wider use of asciminib. The recommendation involves adult patients with Philadelphia chromosome-positive chronic myeloid leukaemia (Ph+ CML) in its chronic phase, previously treated with two or more tyrosine kinase inhibitors.

"Though outcomes for CML patients have improved, challenges in treatment have continued to have an impact on patients' quality of life, together with the potential to develop resistance or intolerance to their current treatment," explained David FitzGerald, Trustee at CML Support UK. "For this reason, we welcome the addition of asciminib to the treatment pathway, offering a new option for third-line therapy for eligible patients living with CML."

"Over the past two decades, TKIs have been the mainstay of treatment for CML, however, over time patients often have to switch their treatment due to intolerance or resistance. A significant number of patients on second-line TKI treatment fail to achieve a satisfactory response after two years and are at risk of disease progression," said Dr Dragana Milojkovic, Professor of Practice at Imperial College London.

"Where the next treatment option has previously been another conventional TKI, today's decision means that clinicians can now consider a novel TKI with an alternative mechanism of action, that may support outcomes for eligible CML patients," she added.

"NICE's positive recommendation for asciminib means that physicians can now consider an innovative treatment for people living with chronic myeloid leukaemia, a long-term debilitating and life-threatening condition," concluded Heather Moses, oncology country medical director at Novartis UK. "This milestone strengthens Novartis' legacy in oncology and is evidence of our ongoing commitment to bring forward pioneering, precision treatment options to address unmet needs and help improve quality of life for people living with cancer."

In England and Wales, there are approximately 830 new cases of CML every year, with the majority of patients requiring lifelong treatment and management. A switch in treatment is not uncommon for those with CML, with almost half of patients changing the treatment they are on after becoming intolerant or developing resistance.