Campaigners have welcomed news that the NHS is hoping to offer chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy – CAR-T.
NHS England says it is seeking “fair and affordable” prices from manufacturers.
Its chief executive Simon Stevens said that CAR-T would be “one of the most innovative” treatments ever offered on the NHS.
The treatment aims to convey life-long immunity to cancer through reimplanting genetically modified immune cells into patients.
The charity Bloodwise says it can offer a “lifeline” to some patients with diseases such as lymphoma and acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.
Mr Stevens told the conference of the Association of British Pharmaceutical Industry that preparations are under way to make the treatment available to patients.
Dr Alasdair Rankin, director of research of Bloodwise, said: “This is a really positive step for some people living with cancer whose lives cannot be saved using the treatments doctors can already provide. We are confident that the first therapies to be approved for use by the NHS will be for patients with blood cancer, because that is where we have seen the first strong results in clinical trials.
“While it is an exciting time, even once the first therapies are approved, only a small number of people will be treated in this way at first and not unless other forms of effective cancer treatment have been shown not to work. However we can expect to see CAR-T therapy develop significantly over the next decade.”
He added: “These therapies are expensive, and in order for them to become widely available, manufacturers need to set fair prices so that they are both affordable and sustainable in the long term.”
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