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NICE recommendation for AstraZeneca's Calquence in chronic lymphocytic leukaemia populations

Published on 08/12/20 at 01:36pm

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has recommended that AstraZeneca’s Calquence (acalabrutinib) be used on the NHS in England and Wales to treat chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL), the most common form of leukaemia in adult patients with up to 4,500 new diagnoses in the UK every year.

The watchdog backed the drug specifically in untreated CLL patients who are either considered high-risk because of genetic characteristics like 17p deletion or TP53 mutation, or who have received at least one prior therapy and only if ibrutinib is their only suitable treatment option.

For 30 days following the ruling, patients in these populations will be able to access the drug immediately via the NHS in England and Wales, thanks to an interim funding arrangement between AstraZeneca and NHS England. After this period, the therapy will be funded by routine commissioning budgets.

“This is the second NICE approval of novel targeted therapies for leukaemia patients in as many weeks and marks a really ground-breaking time for the advancement of leukaemia care within the NHS,” remarked Dr George Follows, Consultant Haematologist and Clinical Lead for Lymphoma and CLL at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. “We have been lucky enough to have experience of treating patients in Cambridge with these new drugs through our clinical trials programme and have been struck by how well-tolerated and effective they are for the majority of patients. I am very pleased that we will now be able to offer these treatments to our patients in the routine clinical setting.”

While NICE also mulled the idea of making the drug available to untreated, non-high risk CLL who are ineligible for existing chemotherapy-based treatments, it ultimately decided against recommended it in this population.

Matt Fellows

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