The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has provisionally recommended the chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) drug obinutuzumab (the trade name of which is Gazyvaro) for NHS patients in England and Wales. The positive news comes less than two months after NICE’s initial decision against the NHS funding the drug.
Gazyvaro works by attaching itself to the surface of abnormal white blood cells, which are overproduced in CLL, and then causes the cells to die. 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 will recommend Gazyvaro in combination with the chemotherapy drug chlorambucil for CLL patients who have not previously received any other treatment for their leukaemia.
Professor Chris Bunce, Research Director at Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, said: “The decision by NICE to reverse their stance regarding Gazyvaro is very welcome news. Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia is the most common type of adult leukaemia in the UK.
“The disease remains largely incurable but Gazyvaro has been proven to significantly prolong survival times for many patients. It is encouraging to see drug companies and NICE showing persistence in working together in order to ensure that patients can benefit from new treatments.”