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Life extending cancer-drug Revlimid approved by NICE

30 January 2009

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Health officials have approved the use of blood cancer drug Revlimid (lenalidomide), which can extend life expectancy by up to three years, after a deal was struck with its manufacturer.

The U-turn move by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) means Revlimid will be available to people with the cancer multiple myeloma via the NHS.

Research has found that the once-a-day pill when taken with drug, dexamethasone, produces a substantial reduction or disappearance in the signs and symptoms of the cancer.

Although the drug did not cure the disease, two out of three patients taking Revlimid and dexamethasone found the condition was kept under control and life expectancy increased by months.

Revlimid in combination with dexamethasone will now be available to patients who have already tried two or more other therapies.

The deal comes after drug maker Celgene proposed a cost-sharing scheme whereby the NHS will fund the drug for the first two years and any further costs will be met by the manufacturer.

Clinical trials by Celgene found patients gained almost three extra years of life when treated with Revlimid compared with the current standard of care.

Copyright © Press Association 2009

National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence