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Celgene says disappointed with NICE decision to not back blood cancer drug

Published on 08/04/16 at 02:15pm

US drugmaker Celgene Corp (Nasdaq: CELG) on Friday said it is disappointed with UK regulators’ decision to not recommend Vidaza (azacitidine) to treat Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML), a rare blood cancer for patients aged over 65 years or older. 

The company said Azacitidine has the potential to provide a vital life-line to eligible people with AML adding the late stage trials for the drug showed a median improvement in survival of 3.8 months compared with conventional care regimens. 

A final National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidance for Azacitidine is due to be published in July. 

Wim Souverjins, Vice President and General Manager at Celgene UK & Ireland, says: “As a company, Celgene has pioneered research in blood cancers for over 20 years and we are striving to ensure people affected by such diseases enjoy the longest and best quality of life possible. We recognise however that our medicines are only of benefit if eligible patients can access them: we are committed to collaborating with NICE throughout their appraisal process of Azacitidine in Acute Myeloid Leukaemia.” 

AML survival rates have not improved in over three decades, and due to the nature of current treatment approaches, coupled with an older patient population, physicians often offer best supportive care, rather than treat the disease. 

Professor Charles Craddock, Professor of Haemato-Oncology at University of Birmingham says: “Acute myeloid leukaemia is an aggressive cancer of the white blood cells and many patients are unable to tolerate current standards of care, such as intensive chemotherapy regimens or stem cell transplantation. Azacitidine is an important new treatment modality which has shown significant activity in clinical trials; it is my hope that NICE reconsiders their initial recommendation in order for eligible AML patients to access the medicine as soon as possible.” 

Anjali Shukla

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