Lenalidomide (used together with a medicine called dexamethasone) is recommended as a possible treatment for people with multiple myeloma who have already had at least two other treatments. The manufacturer of lenalidomide has agreed to cover the cost of the drug for people who stay on treatment for more than 26 cycles (normally a period of 2 years).
Healthcare professionals should not stop prescribing lenalidomide for people with multiple myeloma who were already taking it when the guidance was issued, but who have not already had two or more other treatments. These people should be able to carry on taking lenalidomide until they and their healthcare professional(s) decide that it is the right time to stop treatment.
Following the BBC documentary The Price of Life broadcast on 17 June, NICE has published guidance on the use of lenalidomide for multiple myeloma on its website ahead of the scheduled publication date. The guidance will be formally issued to the NHS when we launch other guidance on 24 June 2009. Accordingly, the Secretary of State's direction requiring NHS organisations to make funding available for NICE recommended treatments within 3 months of final guidance being published will begin on 24 June.
The recommendations in this guidance represent the view of NICE, arrived at after careful consideration of the evidence available. When exercising their judgement, health professionals are expected to take this guidance fully into account, alongside the individual needs, preferences and values of their patients. The application of the recommendations in this guidance is at the discretion of health professionals and their individual patients and do not override the responsibility of healthcare professionals to make decisions appropriate to the circumstances of the individual patient, in consultation with the patient and/or their carer or guardian.
Commissioners and/or providers have a responsibility to provide the funding required to enable the guidance to be applied when individual health professionals and their patients wish to use it, in accordance with the NHS Constitution. They should do so in light of their duties to have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, to advance equality of opportunity and to reduce health inequalities.