Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research welcomes NICE’s decision today to approve the drug azacitidine (which is marketed under the name Vidaza) for the treatment of NHS patients with high and medium to high risk myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), high-blast count chronic myelomonocytic leukaemia (CMML) or acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) with MDS-like features.
Ken Campbell, Clinical Information Specialist at Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, says:
"We welcome the decision by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence to reverse its initial judgment not to recommend azacitidine, which it has always acknowledged to be clinically effective. A compromise reached with the drug company to make it more cost effective can only benefit patients. The news offers real hope to those patients who so far have had no access to curative treatments for their condition.
Until now, patients with these diseases have only received supportive care such as transfusions for anaemia, or treatment for infections. At the moment, the only treatment that can directly improve the outcome for these diseases is a stem cell transplant from a donor, but sadly few patients are usually fit enough for this to be an option.
Azacitidine is the first drug to actually treat these conditions. Patients who have received azacitidine not only have had longer survival but also spent less time in hospital, had fewer serious infections and less need for transfusions. The availability of this drug should greatly improve the quality of life of patients and also ease some of the burden on NHS treatment facilities."