04 May 2018

Hundreds of people with blood cancer given more treatment options after NICE recommends three drugs

NICE has recommended three blood cancer drugs, brentuximab vedotin, midostaurin and arsenic trioxide be made available on the NHS.

Pharmacist giving patients blood cancer drug prescription

Two of the drugs, midostaurin, also known as Rydapt and arsenic trioxide or Trisenox are recommended for adults with certain types of leukaemia.

Meindert Boysen, director of the NICE centre for health technology evaluation, said “For the past 30 years, treatments for leukaemia have changed very little. With our positive recommendations for midostaurin and arsenic trioxide we are pleased to offer patients with leukaemia more treatments than ever before.”

Midostaurin is a first of its kind drug that targets a protein called tyrosine kinase FLT3. Tyrosine kinase FLT3 is often damaged in people with acute myeloid leukaemia. Around 160 adults a year in England and Wales, who test positive for the mutated FLT3 gene, will be eligible for this pill.

Arsenic trioxide is recommended as an option for adults with another type of leukaemia called acute promyelocytic. This is where the person has fewer healthy blood cells than normal. The drug is given intravenously. Around 140 people a year in England will be eligible for it.

Brentuximab vedotin, also known as Adcetris was previously only available to people through the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF). Around 45 more people a year with a specific type of Hodgkin lymphoma called CD-30 positive will now have automatic right to the drug.

Dr Alasdair Rankin, director of research and patient experience at UK blood cancer charity Bloodwise, said: “We are pleased that NICE and the drug’s manufacturers have worked together to secure access to brentuximab for future patients. This is extremely positive news and offers reassurance to people with Hodgkin lymphoma that they will be able to access the most appropriate therapies at every stage of their treatment.  While standard treatments for Hodgkin lymphoma are generally successful, this decision enables doctors to give patients the best chance of a long-term cure if they do not respond to them.” 

Brentuximab vedotin and midostaurin will be both be available at a confidential discounted price.

All the drugs will be available to people who need them on the NHS 3 months after NICE publishes final guidance.

For the past 30 years, treatments for leukaemia have changed very little. With our positive recommendations we are pleased to offer patients more treatments than ever before.

Meindert Boysen, NICE

This is extremely positive news and offers reassurance to people with Hodgkin lymphoma that they will be able to access the most appropriate therapies at every stage of their treatment.

Dr Alasdair Rankin, Bloodwise