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More people with CLL to benefit from ibrutinib in future

The Bloodwise logo. Bloodwise appears in black text against a white background
Posted by
09 Aug 2018

More people living with a type of leukaemia in England will soon have access to Ibrutinib, thanks to a successful campaign by Bloodwise and other organisations.

Restrictions lifted

Up until today (6 August), Ibrutinib was only made available to people living with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) if patients had relapsed less than three years after chemotherapy.

If remission had lasted for longer than three years, it was considered that patients should undergo further chemotherapy, even if their doctors judged that ibrutinib would be more beneficial.

We, alongside other blood cancer charities and the drug’s manufacturer called on NHS England to overturn the decision to restrict access to the drug. We submitted evidence, based on the experiences of people living with CLL, to highlight the value of the drug to people and the impact of further chemotherapy.

More to do

Although it’s positive that Ibrutinib is available to everyone with relapsed CLL, we’re concerned that future blood cancer drugs could have restrictions placed on them if NHS England does not make changes to the way it makes drugs available.

Dr Alasdair Rankin, Director of Research at Bloodwise, said: “This decision means that people with CLL will no longer need to live with the fear and uncertainty of not knowing whether the most effective – and gentler – treatment will be available to them if they relapse.

“Ibrutinib was approved by NICE for use in the NHS for people with CLL who had relapsed after previous treatment. We were extremely concerned about how the decision to restrict access was made and the precedent it could set in relation to NHS England reinterpreting NICE guidance.

“It’s positive that NHS England are looking again at the way they implement NICE guidance, to ensure that the process of deciding what treatments will be provided by the NHS remains open and transparent and to ensure blood cancer patients have access to lifesaving treatments in the future. We look forward to seeing further details of these proposals in due course.”

Help our work

We’ll continue to campaign to make sure everyone living with blood cancer gets fair access to the best available treatments. You can help our work by telling us if you think you’ve been unfairly denied access to a drug you need by emailing us at

If you want to speak further about CLL or Ibrutinib, contact our Support Line Team on 0808 2080 888 (Monday-Friday 10am-4pm) or email

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