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Published on 18 June 2008

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Watchdog passes new leukaemia drug


A new treatment to combat a form of leukaemia in adults has been approved for use in Scotland.

The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) said Tasigna (nilotinib) will now be used to treat patients with the early form of Philadelphia positive chronic myelogenous leukaemia (CML) who are resistant to other types of therapy.

CML is one of the four most common leukaemias in the world, affecting 4,000 people in the UK. Most people with CML can be treated in the long term with Glivec, but a small amount of people cannot take the drug because of intolerance or because their cancer mutates and becomes resistant to the treatment.

The key treatment goals of managing CML include normalising the blood count, reduction of leukaemia in the bone marrow and in the blood and extending life.

In clinical trials, 77% of patients who had no haematological response prior to Tasigna achieved this goal with the drug, and 40% of patients achieved a complete cytogenetic response. At 18 months, the overall survival rate was 91%.

Dr Nick Heaney, Clinical Research Fellow at the University of Glasgow, said: “The acceptance of Tasigna by the SMC is excellent news for patients and their physicians. Scottish CML patients who cannot be managed with other treatments now have access to an effective treatment option.”

Copyright © PA Business 2008

Scottish Medicines Consortium

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