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Tuesday, 15 October, 2002, 22:53 GMT 23:53 UK
Leukaemia drug gets NHS go-ahead
Glivec
Glivec will be widely available
A medicines watchdog has approved a leukaemia treatment for use in the NHS.

Glivec will be available to patients with chronic myeloid leukaemia, in a recommendation which could cost the NHS an extra 11.8m in the first year, rising to 15.8m.

Around 600 people are newly diagnosed with the condition every year.

The decision marks a U-turn by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (Nice) which had initially recommended Glivec (imatinib) should only be available for patients in the advanced stage of the leukaemia.


It is not a U-turn as that implies we were wrong in the first place

Andrew Dillon, Nice
But protests from campaigners, and new evidence of the drug's potential benefits led Nice to recommend it for all patients with the condition in a final appraisal determination in August.

That recommendation, which applies to England and Wales, was confirmed in its final guidance, published on Wednesday.

The drug is already available in Scotland.

Nice has said it should be given to adults with chronic myeloid leukaemia who have not responded to or have had to come off interferon treatments.

Potential

Andrew Dillon, chief executive of Nice, denied the organisation had made a U-turn about how the drug should be used.

He said: "This is an illustration of the fact the consultation process is completely transparent.

"It is not a U-turn as that implies we were wrong in the first place."

He added: "We could see the potential for Glivec but didn't want to recommend it for all phases."

Mr Dillon said new scientific research and representations from doctors during the consultation process caused Nice to change its position.

When Nice announced its final appraisal determination earlier this year, Dr Richard Sullivan, from Cancer Research UK, said: "This is the day leukaemia patients have been waiting for."

Drugs

The Glivec guidance is the 50th piece of advice on new treatments from Nice, since it was created in 1999.

Its guidance has covered 74 different drugs, 94 medical devices and 15 clinical procedures for 40 different conditions.

Drugs for multiple sclerosis, breast cancer, flu and to help people stop smoking are amongst those which have been considered.

Since Nice was created in 1999, its guidance has potentially cost the NHS an estimated 575m.

See also:

12 Aug 02 | Health
28 May 02 | Health
27 Nov 01 | Health
12 Jun 02 | England
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