Lenalidomide is to be approved as an alternative to thalidomide as a first-line treatment for multiple myeloma on the NHS, it was announced last week.
Regulators at the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) say it may spare some patients the side effects they experience from taking thalidomide or bortezomib. Some of the side effects include bruising, breathlessness and increased risk of infection.
According to NICE, about 2,100 patients are expected to be switched to the new treatment, which would see lenalidomide given with dexamethasone, in patients not eligible for a stem cell transplant and who cannot take thalidomide.
Lenolidomide, also known as Revlimid, is also being approved as a second-line treatment in place of chemotherapy.
NICE says that clinical trials have shown patients gaining months of life from taking lenalidomide rather than bortezomib.
The NHS receives a discount on the price of lenalidomide, but the size of the discount has been kept confidential as part of the agreement with its manufacturer Celgene.
While multiple myeloma is the 19th most common cancer in the UK, NICE says incidence rates have increased by 17% in the last decade.
Meindert Boysen, from NICE, said: “We are pleased to recommend lenalidomide for these patients. Not only will this drug improve the length of time people live, but it will also have fewer side effects compared with current treatments.
“Multiple myeloma is normally treated with a thalidomide -based therapy at first line, however, there is considerable need for new therapies for those who cannot take thalidomide. The new decision by NICE now means that those patients have an effective alternative.”
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