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Two Celgene cancer drugs approved in Ireland

Published on 01/03/16 at 03:38pm

Irish regulators have recommended two cancer treatments from Celgene: Imnovid (pomalidomide), in combination with dexamethasone, for previously-treated relapsed and refractory multiple myeloma patients; and Abraxane (nab-Paclitaxel) in combination with gemcitabine, as a first-line therapy for metastatic pancreatic cancer.

Imnovid will specifically be available for patients that have had at least two prior therapies, including both Revlimid (lenalidomide) and Velcade (bortezomib), whose cancer has progressed despite treatment on the last therapy. Phase III trial data suggests Imnovid plus low-dose dexamethasone, was of benefit to patients for whom these treatments had failed - extending progression-free survival 2.1 months compared to high dose dexamethasone alone.

Dr Patrick Hayden, consultant haematologist and chairperson of Myeloma Ireland, comments: “We are delighted that eligible Irish patients with myeloma now have the option of treatment with Imnovid following approval by the HSE. Multiple myeloma remains an incurable disease, and patients need to be able to access alternative treatment options. It is therefore very reassuring that Imnovid is now available for eligible patients in Ireland.”

Wim Souverijns, general manager, Celgene UK & Ireland, comments: “We are extremely pleased that eligible patients affected by both multiple myeloma and metastatic pancreatic cancer in Ireland will now be able to access Imnovid and Abraxane respectively. It is encouraging that the Health Service Executive has recognised that these treatments can help Irish patients affected by these terrible diseases.”

However, the Irish watchdog’s decision on both drugs stands in contrast to that of its English counterpart NICE, which last year rejected both in the same indications for routine use on the NHS on a cost basis. Both treatments were also removed from the Cancer Drugs Fund during a round of cuts in September 2015, denying access for English patients.

Joel Levy 

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