New Combination Therapy for Multiple Myeloma Approved in England

According to a story from Myeloma Research News, the UK National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has recently decided to approve a three part combination treatment for coverage on the country’s National Health Service (NHS). This combination is intended to treat multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer, that has stopped responding to other treatments. The combination consists of dexamethasone, daratumumab (marketed as Darzalex), and bortezomib (marketed at Velcade).

About Multiple Myeloma

Multiple myeloma, which is occasionally referred to as plasma cell myeloma, is a blood cancer that affects plasma cells. These are white blood cells that produce antibodies. The overall cause of multiple myeloma is not well understood, however, some risk factors have been identified. These include obesity, family history, smoldering myeloma, and monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance. These last two conditions have the potential to develop into multiple myeloma. Symptoms of this cancer include bone pain, infections, anemia, kidney failure, overly thick blood, confusion, fatigue, headaches, and amyloidosis. Treatment includes chemo, stem cell transplant, and other medications for relapsed disease, which is common. Five year survival rate is 49 percent in the US. To learn more about multiple myeloma, click here.

A More Effective Treatment Option

The decision to accept coverage for this combination therapy is derived from the results of a Phase 3 clinical trial which demonstrated that the addition of daratumumab to treatment with the two additional drugs was superior to the use of the two drugs without it. The three part combination was able to reduce the risk of death or disease progression by 61 percent. The response rate to this therapy was also better. This trial included a total of 498 patients that had received at least one prior treatment or therapy.

Funding for this treatment will come from the Cancer Drugs Fund. Multiple myeloma patients in England who no longer are responding to currently available therapies will now have a new, more effective option at their disposal. While this three part combination has been approved in the US since 2016, NICE was initially skeptical of the cost-effectiveness of the treatment.


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