Chris West
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Update on NICE assessment of ibrutinib

Chris West
Posted by
02 Mar 2016

NICE issues draft guidance on CLL drug

NICE, has issued draft recommendations for use of the drug ibrutinib for patients with relapsed or refractory chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL). 

Unfortunately, NICE have provisionally recommended that ibrutinib is not made available on the NHS in England.  This isn’t their final decision, and there will now be a consultation on these draft recommendations.  However, it is obviously disappointing that this effective treatment has been initially turned down.  Some patients in England with CLL are currently being treated with ibrutinib via the Cancer Drugs Fund (and regardless of what happens next, patients currently being treated with ibrutinib will still have access to it).  However, we want the drug to be approved by NICE, because in the new process of assessing drugs, a positive recommendation from NICE is the only way we can guarantee all appropriate patients will receive it.

We know that this is a highly effective treatment, and has been described as a step change in the treatment of CLL.  This view is echoed by clinical experts and patients who have been treated with ibrutinib. 

The fact that NICE has provisionally not recommended this treatment doesn’t mean they disagree about how effective the drug is.  As well as looking at effectiveness, NICE have to look at the cost of the treatment, and decide how to assess and interpret all the clinical data that has been gathered.  In the consultation on ibrutinib that will now take place, these are areas where there will need to be much discussion.

Bloodwise will be responding to NICE on this draft guidance, to make the case that CLL patients should have access to the most effective treatments, and calling for NICE and drug manufacturers to work together more effectively to ensure patients can access drugs at a cost the NHS can afford.  We know from the recent debate around the future of the Cancer Drugs Fund that there is an urgent need to consider how NICE assesses drugs like this, and with many more effective blood cancer treatments in development, NICE reform needs to be made a priority.

The consultation on ibrutinib closes on March 23rd.  After this, NICE will consider the responses, and is expected to make a final decision in June this year.  We will keep you up to date on how the appraisal of ibrutinib is going, so look out for updates on our website and on our social media channels.