Amgen has launched its multiple myeloma drug Kyprolis in the UK, offering patients the chance to access the first irreversible proteasome inhibitor cleared to treat the rare and aggressive blood cancer.

Kyprolis (carfilzomib) was approved for the EU back in November, with regulators issuing a green light for its use in combination with Celgene’s multiple myeloma therapy Revlimid (lenalidomide) and dexamethasone to treat patients who have received at least one prior therapy. 

The approval was based on data from the pivotal Phase III ASPIRE trial, in which patients given the Kyprolis/Revlimid/dexamethasone combo had median progression-free survival of 26.3 months compared to 17.6 months for those treated with just Revlimid and dexamethasone.

While there have been significant treatment advances in recent years multiple myeloma remains an incurable disease. The availability of Kyprolis “provides an important new treatment option” for relapsed forms of the disease, “helping to address a real unmet need for this rare blood cancer,” noted Tony Patrikios, Executive Medical Director at Amgen UK.

"Myeloma is a relapsing and remitting cancer and so it's extremely important that we continue to see access to new effective treatments,” said Myeloma UK Chief Executive Eric Low, also noting that the patient group will work closely with both Amgen and the UK’s various healthcare technology assessment bodies “to ensure that patients get access as quickly as possible”.

Amgen said it expects to make a submission to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence later in 2016 based on data from the ASPIRE study and from ENDEAVOR, in which patients treated with Kyprolis/dexamethasone achieved 50 percent greater progression-free survival of 18.7 months compared to 9.4 months in those receiving Janssen’s Velcade (bortezomib)/dexamethasone. 

Around 4,900 new cases of multiple myeloma are diagnosed each year in the UK, and less than half of patients will survive for five years, highlighting the urgent need for new treatment options.