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NICE approves new blood cancer drug

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A new drug that treats blood cancer will be available on the NHS in England and Wales after a deal was reached between NICE and the manufacturer.

A deal between Celgene Limited and health officials has made it possible for Revlimid (lenalidomide) to be offered to patients with multiple myeloma.

The once-a-day pill can be taken at home by patients, and although it will not cure the disease it is designed to keep the condition under control and extend life expectancy.

Research in the New England Journal of Medicine showed two out of three patients taking Revlimid plus another drug, dexamethasone, saw a substantial reduction or disappearance in the signs and symptoms of the cancer.

In allowing Revlimid in combination with dexamethasone for patients who have already tried two or more other therapies, NICE has overturned its preliminary recommendation for the drug not to be used on the NHS.

Celgene Limited proposed a cost-sharing scheme where the NHS will fund the drug for the first two years and any further costs are met by the manufacturer.

According to Celgene, clinical trials show that patients can gain almost three extra years of life when treated with Revlimid.

In Scotland a deal will not reached until any cost-sharing agreement has been debated by the Scottish Parliament.

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