CAR T-cell therapy – a breakthrough cancer treatment – has been recommended for adults with some types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
NICE has published its final draft guidance, approving axicabtagene-ciloleucel to be used within the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF), which will give people access to the treatment while more data on its effectiveness is collected.
Meindert Boysen, director of the Centre for Health Technology Evaluation, NICE, said: “People with these aggressive subtypes of non-Hodgkin lymphoma often have very poor outcomes. NICE’s recommendation is exciting because it means that adults will have access to a CAR T-cell therapy through the Cancer Drugs Fund.
“It is great to see that NHS England is preparing to deliver CAR T-cell therapy as quickly as possible and we hope that people can start treatment soon.”
Axicabtagene-ciloleucel, also known as Yescarta, has been approved for adults with relapsed or refractory diffuse large B-cell lymphoma or primary mediastinal large B-cell lymphoma, two aggressive subtypes of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
It will be offered to people whose disease has not responded after two or more rounds of chemotherapy or relapsed after a stem cell transplant, which means that about 200 people each year in England will be eligible for the therapy.
The CAR T-cell therapy for these lymphoma patients will be available at seven hospitals as the service is rolled out across the country.
John Stewart, NHS England’s director of specialised commissioning, said: “As we prepare to publish the NHS’s long-term plan, this constructive and fast-track negotiation shows how the NHS is leading from the front by ensuring patients in England are among the first in the world to benefit from this immensely promising treatment.”
NICE initially refused to recommend CAR‑T cell therapy for these patients because it was not considered cost‑effective.
However, negotiations between NHS England and the manufacturer Kite, a Gilead company, resulted in the price being lowered.
NICE says that although it is a promising therapy, questions remain around the long-term outcomes and the potential side-effects.