Hundreds of people with an aggressive type of blood cancer, known as diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) are set to benefit from a potentially curative new treatment option on the NHS with the approval of the drug Glofitamab.
Glofitamab (also called Columvi®) is to be made available for patients with previously treated DLBCL, which is a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma that develops in the glands, after being given the green light by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE).
The NHS is fast-tracking the new treatment which will be made available within weeks for patients who have had two or more cancer treatments that have not been fully effective in eliminating their cancer, such as the case of one patient who is now in remission and able to walk again after being reliant on a wheelchair before treatment.
Dozens of patients have already shown benefit from the drug thanks to an NHS early access programme with clinical trials showing that the drug has the potential to cure patients from the disease.
In England each year around 5,500 people are diagnosed with this type of cancer, which mainly affects men aged 65 and over, with the most common symptom being painless swellings of the glands.
NHS England will use the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) to provide fast-tracked access to the treatment ahead of its future funding from routine commissioning. Since July 2016, more than 93,000 patients have now benefitted from one of more than 100 drugs in over 250 indications through CDF access.
Currently, patients with DLBCL may receive treatment with a combination of chemotherapy, radiotherapy, bone marrow transplant and chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapies. CAR T therapies are already provided in specialist centres across England, but glofitamab, which is administered as an intravenous infusion, can be offered at more cancer treatment sites across the country.
NHS Chief Executive, Amanda Pritchard, said: “The approval of Glofitamab is incredible news for those who have this advanced and aggressive form of blood cancer, and it is testament to the hard work of NHS staff that hundreds more patients who can benefit from it will do so in a matter of weeks.
“This is the latest in a long list of cutting-edge drugs available on the NHS to help people with cancer live longer with a better quality of life – it is so wonderful to hear the impact that it has already had on patients like John who can now walk again and spend time with his family, thanks to this lifechanging treatment.”
NHS England’s Cancer Drug’s Fund Lead, Professor Peter Clark, said: “The approval of this drug is great news for people living with an advanced and aggressive form of blood cancer, who are set to benefit from this new treatment.
“Not only does it provide a potentially life-saving option for patients who may have not responded to CAR T therapy, it is also an alternative for some CAR T eligible patients who choose instead to have glofitamab closer to home.