Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research is extremely disappointed by the news that a number of blood cancer drugs are to be delisted from the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF). In total, five drugs will be delisted for eight different indications. The changes will come into force in March 2015.
It is important to note that existing patients being treated with any of these drugs will still be allowed to take them.
The delistings apply specifically to certain ‘indications’ for different types of blood cancer (an indication may be for patients at a specific stage of disease, or for those who have already been treated with other drugs previously).
The CDF was set up in 2011 to give patients in England access to cancer treatments ruled too expensive for routine use on the NHS. There are around a dozen different drugs used to treat blood cancers that are only available through the Cancer Drugs Fund for certain patients - a significant proportion of the drugs on the list. Today’s announcement comes as the result of an evaluation that was launched at the end of last year of the cost-effectiveness of many drugs available through the scheme.
There is some positive news for blood cancer patients in the announcement too. While Bortezomib has been removed for the treatment of relapsed mantle cell lymphoma, Ibrutinib has been added to the Cancer Drugs Fund for these patients, which is exciting news. While Ofatumumab has been removed for CLL, Ibrutinib has also been added for these patients.
Bortezomib (also known as Velcade) will no longer be available through the CDF as an option for myeloma patients who relapse after previous treatment with the drug. Patients who relapse who have not received the drug before can continue to access Bortezomib through the CDF. Other treatments for chronic myeloid leukaemia, non-Hodgkin lymphoma and chronic lymhocytic leukaemia have also been delisted. (Full list below).
Professor Chris Bunce, Research Director at Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, said: “We are very concerned indeed that so many drugs for blood cancers like leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma have been delisted from the Cancer Drugs Fund. The decision to remove effective drugs from so many patients represents a dramatic step backwards. Many of these treatments can significantly prolong survival times and provide a good quality of life for diseases that can have devastating symptoms. In many cases, patient populations for the drug indication are very small, so the total cost burden to the NHS is actually relatively low.
“A constructive dialogue between all parties is needed to get to a long term and sustainable system that ensures patients can access the treatments they need.”
Speaking regarding the de-listing of Bortezomib for myeloma patients who have had prior-treatment with the drug, Dr Andrew Chantry, Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research Medical Advisor and Consultant Haematologist, Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield, said: “This decision is extremely unfortunate and will substantially disadvantage many patients who have previously benefitted from this important drug. Many patients respond extremely well to Bortezomib and may well not respond nearly as well to other myeloma drugs. This will shorten their lives and hasten the return of considerable suffering and often lead to a terminal decline.”
The full list of blood cancer drugs and their indications that have been delisted:
Remember, if you are taking any of the drugs for any of the indications below, you will be allowed to continue taking them.
Bosutinib (Bosulif) for the treatment of blast phase chronic myeloid leukaemia refractory or intolerant to nilotinib or dasatinib
Bosutinib (Bosulif) for the treatment of blast crisis Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia
Dasatinib (Sprycel) for the treatment of lymphoid blast phase chronic myeloid leukaemia with resistance or intolerance to prior therapy
Ofatumumab (Arzerra) for the treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia
Bendamustine (Levact) for the treatment of Rituximab refractory low grade non-Hodgkin lymphoma
Bortezomib (Velcade) for the treatment of relapsed/refractory mantle cell lymphoma
Bortezomib (Velcade) for the treatment of relapsed Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinaemia
Bortezomib (Velcade) for the treatment of relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma with prior response to Bortezomib