NICE has issued final draft guidance recommending lenalidomide, an immunomodulatory drug also known as Revlimid, as an option for treating myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS).
Lenalidomide works primarily by modifying the way that the immune system works to aid the sufferer.
The appraisal leading to the NICE guidance focused on the use of lenalidomide for treating people with a specific type of MDS that is characterised by an isolated deletion 5q cytogenetic abnormality.
If accepted this guidance would represent a step forward for treatment of people with MDS who generally receive best supportive care, including regular blood transfusions, as there are few specifically definable treatment options available.
Consideration of new options for treating MDS is important as this type of bone marrow disorder, which affects 2000 people each year in England, can lead to life threatening diseases such as acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) and increased infection rates.
Lenalidomide is already used to treat a variety of myeloma type cancers and may also help to prevent development of AML.
Commenting on the final draft guidance, NICE chief executive Sir Andrew Dillon said: “The committee heard from clinical experts that lenalidomide is an effective therapy. Celgene – who market lenalidomide – worked with us to provide enough evidence to make it possible for us to recommend it for this group of people.
“Celgene provided a revised analysis and further information on their proposal for a reduction in the cost of the drug to the NHS (through the patient access scheme),” he said.
Celgene’s patient access scheme involves the NHS paying for lenalidomide treatment for up to 26 monthly cycles.
The company will then provide the drug free of charge for those people who receive more than 26 monthly cycles.
The draft guidance is now with consultees, who have the opportunity to appeal against it. NICE advises that NHS bodies should make decisions locally on the funding of specific treatments until final guidance is issued.