NICE approves drug for multiple myeloma

University Hospitals of North Midlands (UHNM) NHS Trust has, over the past 10 years, been leading on a trial into a breakthrough cancer drug to support people with multiple myeloma.

During the study, a national recruitment record was reported, due to the number of patients who signed up. Around 4,000 patients took part in the trial – called ‘Myeloma XI’ – in total.

The trial, which began in 2011, was introduced to help patients with multiple myeloma, a type of bone marrow cancer that is most commonly found in men.  

The drug ‘lenalidomide’ has recently been approved by NICE and is used to treat patients with multiple myeloma which can’t be cured. Around 5,000 people are diagnosed with multiple myeloma each year in the UK. 

It’s hoped the drug will increase the chance of remission and boost the chances of survival. 

Dr Kamaraj Karunanithi, Director of Research and Innovation at UHNM, said: “Whilst myeloma cannot be cured, there is so much research continuing to happen in this area, particularly in relation to the advent of new drugs. By participating in clinical trials, people have the opportunity to receive these treatments early and many did in this clinical trial. More than that, it paves the way for future change in the standard of care for people suffering with this incurable cancer. This trial is a very good example of that.”

The news of the success of the trial was followed by NICE recommending triple therapy, with lenalidomide being used in combination with carfilzomib and dexamethasone to help patients with multiple myeloma. As a result of this discovery, NHS England has partnered with drug manufacturer Amgen to deliver the the triple therapy, based off the NICE recommendation.  

Professor Peter Johnson, NHS England Clinical Director for Cancer, said: “Even as we continue to care for COVID-19 patients, it is vital that we continue to innovate and offer cancer patients the best available treatments, which is why the NHS has worked hard to reach this agreement for carfilzomib, which can extend the lives of those with multiple myeloma. 

“It provides doctors another option to treat this disease and gives patients hope when alternative treatments haven’t worked, ensuring the NHS can continue to give first-class care to patients.”