25 November 2016

NICE reverses decision on CDF leukaemia drug after price drop

Hundreds of people could benefit as NICE decision means ibrutinib can come off the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) and be routinely available to treat chronic lymphocytic leukaemia.

Ibrutinib will be available as a routine option for an estimated 620 patients with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia who have had treatment before, or who have genetic changes – known as 17p deletion or TP53 mutation. 

An earlier recommendation by NICE did not recommend ibrutinib, also known as Imbruvica, for routine NHS use. However, following a reduction in price, the independent appraisal committee were able to approve the drug as cost effective.

Professor Carole Longson, director of the centre for health technology evaluation at NICE, said: “Patients with this type of leukaemia are difficult to treat; they have very limited treatment options available and some treatments can cause severe side effects.”

Ibrutinib, a daily tablet, works by blocking the signals which help cancerous cells multiply and survive. 

“The committee found ibrutinib to be an innovative and effective drug for these patients,” says Prof Longson. 

A year’s treatment costs more than £55,000 per patient, but the NHS will pay a reduced price. 

The draft guidance is now with consultees who have the opportunity to appeal against it. Once NICE issues final guidance on ibrutinib, the NHS must make it available within three months.

Patients with this type of leukaemia are difficult to treat; they have very limited treatment options available and some treatments can cause severe side effects.

Professor Carole Longson, director of the centre for health technology evaluation at NICE