NHS cancer patient

Newly-approved cancer drug to benefit patients within weeks, NHS suggests

Hundreds of NHS cancer patients are set to benefit from a potentially curative treatment thanks to a new recommendation from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

The new treatment comes in the form of glofitamab for an aggressive type of blood cancer called diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL).

The drug, which is marketed as Columvi, is delivered intravenously and will be made available for patients who have had two or more previous treatments that have not worked.

The approval coincides with licensing being granted by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, meaning an estimated 700 patients will now benefit “within weeks” according to NHS England.

Fast-tracked access will be provided by the cancer drugs fund – an initiative that has helped more than 93,000 patients since July 2016.

Early access clinical trials have already seen dozens of patients benefit from the drug even sooner however – this includes John Sharp, a 68 year-old man from Northumberland who saw his cancer go into full remission after just three cycles of glofitamab.

Approximately 5,500 people are diagnosed with DLBCL each year in England, with it typically impacting men aged 65 and over.

Patients are currently given a combination of chemotherapy, radiotherapy, bone marrow transplants, and CAR T therapies to treat this particular type of cancer.

Lead for the cancer drugs fund at NHS England, Professor Peter Clark, said: “The approval of this drug is great news for people living with an advanced and aggressive form of blood cancer, who are set to benefit from this new treatment.”

He continued: “Not only does it provide a potentially life-saving option for patients who may have not responded to CAR T therapy, it is also an alternative for some CAR T eligible patients who choose instead to have glofitamab closer to home.”

NICE’s director of medicines evaluation, Helen Knight, added: “Advanced B-cell lymphoma is an aggressive form of blood cancer and can progress quickly. The sooner people can access the best treatment for them, the better chance they have of living for longer and improving their quality of life.

“This is why it is such good news that our independent committee has found that glofitamab is clinically and cost effective for treating people with this advanced form of cancer, and we welcome the news that NHS England will make this available to patients quickly.”

Image credit: iStock

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NHE May/June 2024

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