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AWMSG approves pomalidomide

written by

Leukaemia Care, Charity

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The All Wales Medicines Strategy Group (AWMSG) has now approved pomalidomide for use within NHS Wales. The drug, marketed by Celgene Ltd as Imnovid®, should be available to patients with relapsed and refractory multiple myeloma as a treatment option by the end of the year.

Myeloma (also known as multiple myeloma) is a cancer which affects the plasma cells, a type of white blood cell found in the bone marrow. Plasma cells produce antibodies called “immunoglobulins” to help fight infections. Normally new plasma cells are produced to replace old cells but in patients with myeloma, abnormal amounts of plasma cells are created which only make one type of antibody called ‘paraprotein’. This has no useful function and cannot fight infection effectively.

In March, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) reviewed the treatment and did not recommend it as a treatment option for NHS patients in England and Wales. Despite this, the AWMSG has decided to recommend pomalidomide for use “within NHS Wales in combination with dexamethasone for the treatment of adult patients with relapsed and refractory multiple myeloma who have received at least two prior treatment regimens, including both lenalidomide and bortezomib, and have demonstrated disease progression on the last therapy.”

The AWMSG approval was based on data from Celgene’s “NIMBUS” clinical trial which showed that the drug significantly improved progression-free survival and overall survival in myeloma patients when they were treated with pomalidomide in combination with a low-dose of dexamethasone, rather than a high-dose of dexamethasone alone.

Pomalidomide is now recommended, in both Wales and Scotland, for relapsed and refractory multiple myeloma patients who have received at least two prior treatments. Whilst NICE did not recommend the use of pomalidomide, patients in England can currently access it via the Cancer Drugs Fund.

Monica Izmajlowicz, Leukaemia CARE Chief Executive, has commented:

“We are delighted that following this decision by the All Wales Medicines Strategy Group (AWMSG) patients in England, Scotland and now Wales can access this effective treatment option.”