The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has recommended that the drug obinutuzumab is used to treat some patients with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL). This means that doctors can now prescribe the drug, which is also known by its trade name Gazyvaro, to eligible NHS patients in England and Wales.
Gazyvaro works by attaching itself to the surface of abnormal white blood cells, which are overproduced in CLL, and then causing the cells to ‘self-destruct’. In recent years the introduction of these targeted immune proteins, known as monoclonal antibodies, has been very successful at extending survival times for CLL patients. Unfortunately not every patient currently responds to treatment.
Gazyvaro is a ‘second generation’ monoclonal antibody, which has been shown in clinical trials to give patients around an extra year in remission, compared to the ‘first generation’ monoclonal antibody rituximab.
NICE has approved Gazyvaro for use in combination with the chemotherapy drug chlorambucil for CLL patients who have not previously received any other treatment for their leukaemia.
Dr Matt Kaiser, Head of Research at Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, said: “Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia is the most common type of adult leukaemia in the UK. It remains largely incurable but Gazyvaro has been proven to significantly prolong survival times for many patients. NICE’s decision is very welcome and means that Gazyvaro will now be routinely available to those leukaemia patients who could benefit from it.”