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Regulator reverses decision on leukaemia drug

NICE says ibrutinib now available for routine NHS use

Adrian O'Dowd

Friday, 25 November 2016

The drugs regulator NICE has reversed its decision on the drug ibrutinib saying that it can come off the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) and be routinely available on the NHS to treat chronic lymphocytic leukaemia.

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

The decision follows a price drop, according to NICE, who said that the drug would now 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.

Previous recommendations by NICE did not recommend ibrutinib, also known as Imbruvica, for routine NHS use, but after a reduction in price, the independent appraisal committee was able to approve the drug as cost effective.

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The draft guidance is now with consultees who can appeal against it.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

Professor Carole Longson, director of NICE’s centre for health technology evaluation, 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. The committee found ibrutinib to be an innovative and effective drug for these patients.”

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