NICE reviews multiple myeloma drug and approves for routine use

Hundreds of patients set to benefit after NICE draft guidance recommends pomalidomide, a drug that treats some people with bone marrow cancer, for routine use on the NHS.

Image of medication

Pomalidomide – a type of biological therapy – is used to treat patients whose cancer has come back after 3 previous treatments, including both lenalidomide and bortezomib. Around 620 patients would be eligible for treatment with this drug a year.

Professor Carole Longson, director of the centre for health technology evaluation at NICE, said: “Treating multiple myeloma can be difficult because the disease often relapses and drugs can stop working. Pomalidomide offers patients a clinically effective and well-tolerated oral treatment.”

NICE originally looked at pomalidomide in 2015 and published guidance not recommending the drug for patients who have had 2 previous treatments.

Prof Long added: “It’s great news that our independent committee were able to recommend pomalidomide for routine use after updated data and a confidential discount were taken into account when reviewing our original decision on this drug.” 

Multiple myeloma is an incurable cancer which causes plasma cells to divide and expand within the bone marrow, leading to bone damage and affecting the production of healthy blood cells around the body.

Pomalidomide works by stopping myeloma cells developing and encourages the immune system to kill these cells. It costs on average £44,420 for a course of treatment, but the NHS will pay less than this as the company has offered a confidential discount through a patient access scheme.

The drug will be made available to patients within 3 months of NICE issuing final guidance. Final guidance is expected to publish in January 2017.

Treating multiple myeloma can be difficult because the disease often relapses and drugs can stop working. Pomalidomide offers patients a clinically effective and well-tolerated oral treatment.

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