NICE kicks off 'new approach' with leukaemia drug approval

In collaboration with the Press Association

A drug previously considered too expensive for the NHS will now become widely available after the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) agreed a discount with the manufacturer.

The move by NICE to approve bosutinib for treatment of chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) was welcomed by Cancer Research UK.

The drug was previously only available through applying to the Cancer Drug Fund (CDF).

The cost of the drug per patient, per year is £45,000. But manufacturer Pfizer has offered the NHS a discount as part of a reassessment of existing CDF drugs.

Emma Greenwood, Cancer Research UK’s head of policy, said: "It's good news that patients with chronic myeloid leukaemia can now get this drug through routine NHS funding. It's good to see the process of reassessing existing CDF drugs underway, and encouraging to see the company was able to offer a good price to the NHS.

“But as well as the Government taking forward proposals for the new CDF, we still want to see wider reform of the way new drugs are made available to patients in the future.

“There are some incredibly promising-looking drugs currently in trials around the world, and we want to see those that are proven effective move swiftly into routine use."

Recently, a new version of the CDF was launched, leading to NICE reviewing all the drugs available through the fund.

Bosutinib is the first to be looked at through this rapid reconsideration process.

Professor Carole Longson, director of the Centre for Health Technology Evaluation at NICE, said: “People with this type of chronic myeloid leukaemia, who haven’t responded to first and second line treatment or who experience severe side effects, have few or no treatment options left.

“New patients who need this drug can be reassured that bosutinib should be made available for routine use within the NHS.”

It is estimated that around 80 new patients in England and Wales could be eligible for this treatment each year.

Prof Longson says Pfizer “positively engaged” with the CDF reconsideration process and demonstrated that their drug could be cost effective.