Will there be more individual treatment programmes?
NHS England is to make what it calls a ‘ground breaking’ cancer treatment for children with certain forms of leukaemia available on the NHS.
The treatment, approved by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) for the cancer drugs fund, is the first of what NHS England hopes will be a rapid expansion of personalised cancer therapies on the NHS. Its use is also part of NHS England’s long-term plan to upgrade cancer services.
The move comes after NHS England struck a deal with pharma company Novartis. It is the first such deal in Europe and is one of the fastest funding approvals ever in the NHS, coming less than 10 days after the treatment received its European authorisation.
Hospitals in Manchester, London and Newcastle will be the first to use the new treatment.
The tisagenlecleucel form of CAR-T, a chimeric antigen receptor T-cell, also known as Kymriah, is licensed to treat patients up to 25 years old with B cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia that is refractory, in relapse post-transplant or in second or later relapse. In trials the average patient age was 11. Tisagenlecleucel costs around £282,000 per patient at its full list price.
CAR-T therapy is specifically developed for each individual patient and involves reprogramming the immune system to attack the cancer.
NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said NHS cancer patients will be among the first in the world to benefit from CAR-T therapy.