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New Leukaemia Treatments May Soon Be Available

written by

Leukaemia Care, Charity

  • Couple with doctor Large

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) have today announced the recommendation of two new treatments for patients with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL).

CLL is the most common form of leukaemia in adults, with most patients diagnosed over the age of 60. In patients with CLL the body produces too many white blood cells (lymphocytes), which aren’t fully developed and can’t fight infection properly making patients more vulnerable to infections. CLL is a very slowly developing disease, which is often considered incurable. For more information on CLL, please click here.

The first treatment is ofatumumab, which is marketed by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) as Arzerra®. The final appraisal decision (FAD) which has been released by NICE recommends ofatumumab in combination with chlorambucil is as an option for untreated chronic lymphocytic leukaemia with the following restrictions: the person is ineligible for fludarabine-based therapy, bendamustine is not suitable and the company continues to provide ofatumumab with the discount agreed in the patient access scheme. Ofatumumab is currently being assessed by the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) to determine whether patients in Scotland will also be able to access this treatment.

The second treatment is obinutuzumab, which is marketed by Roche as Gazyvaro®. The FAD recommends obinutuzumab, in combination with chlorambucil as an option for adults with untreated chronic lymphocytic leukaemia who have comorbidities that make full-dose fludarabine-based therapy unsuitable for them, with the following restrictions: bendamustine-based therapy is not suitable and the company continues to provide obinutuzumab with the discount agreed in the patient access scheme. Patients in Scotland are also able to access obinutuzumab following its acceptance by the SMC in December 2014.

It is important to note that these decisions are not yet final and are subject to appeal by consultees and commentators until the 25th of March 2015, with a final outcome to be published in May 2015.

Monica Izmajlowicz, Chief Executive of Leukaemia CARE said: “This is very encouraging news for CLL patients in England and Wales, who may soon be able to routinely access these innovative treatments. These new treatments increase choice enable the selection of treatments most suited to each individual patient.”