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The announcement means that over 600 patients in England who were previously limited to clinical trials or palliative care, will now have immediate access to a new treatment option with interim funding provided via the Cancer Drugs Fund.
“Today’s news will be welcomed by both the clinical and patient communities,” commented Dr Kim Linton, Consultant Medical Oncologist at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust. “There are currently limited treatment options for patients who relapse or don’t respond to therapy. This option provides a novel chemotherapy-free alternative and adds an extra line to the treatment pathway with the potential to prolong survival for our patients.”
While most patients with FL are generally responsive to initial treatment, the disease is characterised by recurrent relapses and shorter remission periods and is ultimately an incurable form of cancer Each year in the UK, approximately 2500 new cases of FL are diagnosed and it is estimated that 20% of patients will experience early relapse within 24 months of initial treatment. It is established that a relapse within 24 months of treatment is a marker of poor survival and an increased risk of death, meaning additional treatment combinations are needed to prolong survival after the first relapse.
“We know only too well the impact that relapsing follicular lymphoma has on people and their families, which is why there is always a need for additional treatment options that will help those who have the most limited options,” noted Ropinder Gill, Chief Executive at Lymphoma Action. “We are delighted that lenalidomide in combination with rituximab will be available for these patients and look forward to the reassurance that additional treatment can bring for this particular lymphoma.”
FL is the most common type of low-grade non-Hodgkin lymphoma and has few symptoms, meaning that many patients are often diagnosed once the disease is in advanced stages. Although FL has a median overall survival of more than 15 years, FL remains an incurable malignancy.
“We are delighted that our ongoing collaboration with NICE has resulted in a positive recommendation for R2 in follicular lymphoma” said Lynelle Hoch, General Manager, Celgene UK & Ireland. “Today’s decision is testament to the ongoing passion and commitment of the company to expand treatment options that address the underserved needs of the blood cancer community.”