Patients with multiple myeloma in England are finally to get full access to the new drug daratumumab, it has been announced.
The drug gained backing from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) last week and, simultaneously, its use was approved by NHS England. It was previously available since late 2017 through the Cancer Drugs Fund.
The monoclonal antibody binds to CD38 on cancer cells, which kills the tumour cells by immune system attack as well as by directly triggering cell death.
It will be available to patients who have tried at least three other treatments. This is expected to be about 350 people a year in England.
NICE said it extends life by an average of nine months and improves the quality of life. The approval was granted on the basis of treatment data on more than 2,000 patients over a three-year period.
Professor Kwee Yong, clinical and academic lead for multiple myeloma at the University College London Hospital, said: “Daratumumab is a first-in-class monoclonal antibody for treating multiple myeloma. We have been treating people with daratumumab through the NHSE Cancer Drugs Fund and we have seen the difference it makes to our patients. People on Daratumumab therapy have minimal side effects and can resume their normal activities, enjoying life with family and friends, and even back to work.
“We are pleased it will now be routinely available and patients can receive a drug which can extend their life while we use the time to identify further treatments.”
NHS Chief Executive Amanda Pritchard said: “This quick injection can have a real impact on the lives of patients and their families and so it is important news that it is now routinely available on the NHS.
“The drug will offer a ray of light to hundreds of people each year who have had limited success with other treatments for this devastating, advanced blood cancer.”
Shelagh McKinlay, acting director of Research and Patient Advocacy at Myeloma UK, said: “We are delighted that daratumumab monotherapy has been made routinely available through the NHS in England. Going down the Cancer Drugs Fund route allowed the treatment to be conditionally approved and given to patients sooner while the necessary data was being gathered.
“Living with myeloma is a constant race against the clock, and with every relapse, treatment options become more and more limited. That’s why delivering new treatments as soon as possible makes a tremendous difference to patients’ quality of life and life expectancy.”
Source: NICE/NHS England
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