Novartis’ CAR-T cancer drug available on NHS to young people

Novartis’ cutting-edge CAR-T therapy Kymriah has officially become available on the NHS for young people with blood cancer.

The chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR-T) drug, also known as tisagenlecleucel, is available for young people with relapsed or refractory B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia through the Cancer Drugs Fund.

Kymriah has a list price of £282,000 but Novartis has agreed to supply it at a confidential discount.

It will be offered to people under the age of 25 who have not responded to treatment or who have relapsed after stem cell transplant.

Around 25-30 people will be eligible for the therapy each year, and the NHS is building a specialist service to give patients access.

The therapy involves taking a person’s own immune cells and modifying them to fight cancer cells, and has the potential to be a cure.

Young people with relapsed or refractory B-cell ALL have repeated cycles of treatment, which can have substantial psychological and physical effects and some have poor outcomes.

The current treatment for this stage of the disease is Amgen’s Blincyto (blinatumomab) or chemotherapy.

In September, NHS England reached a commercial agreement with Novartis that paved the way for reimbursement through the CDF.

The CDF provides interim funding for cancer drugs that have the potential to improve care, but where NICE requires further evidence to show cost-effectiveness.

John Stewart, NHS England’s director of specialised commissioning, said: “NHS cancer patients will now be amongst the first in the world to benefit from this game changing therapy.”

Mari Scheiffele, Novartis Oncology general manager, UK and Ireland, said: “Today represents a milestone for children and young adults with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) who have not responded to other treatments and whose prognosis is poor.

“This one-time therapy, specifically custom-made for each individual patient using their own immune cells, has the potential to extend their survival and improve their quality of life.”

NICE has rejected Kymriah in adults with refractory diffuse large B cell lymphoma (DLBCL) in heavily pretreated patients.

But NHS England has agreed to fund Gilead’s rival CAR-T Yescarta (axicabtagene ciloleucel) in this indication after striking a deal in October.

 

 

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