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A treatment for the blood cancer multiple myeloma has been cleared for NHS use after a U-turn by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.
It has struck a cost-sharing deal whereby the NHS pays for the first two years of individual treatments, after which the manufacturer will pick up the tab.
Revlimid (lenalidomide), made by Celgene, is a one-a-day pill that when combined with dexamethasone can mean an extra three years of life for patients suffering from the otherwise incurable disease.
Professor Peter Littlejohns, clinical and public health director at NICE, said: “The committee accepted that the benefits provided by lenalidomide fitted the criteria for consideration for appraising a life-extending, end-of-life treatment.”
Almost 3,800 people a year are newly-diagnosed with multiple myeloma in the UK, and 2,400 die from it. The New England Journal of Medicine has published data showing that two thirds of patients taking Revlimid saw a substantial reduction or disappearance of their symptoms.
In Scotland, the use of the drug has been rejected because a cost-sharing agreement could not be reached while the issue is being debated by parliament.
Copyright Press Association 2009