As part of a second reassessment of the Cancer Drugs Fund, NHS England has announced that Imnovid® (pomalidomide) and Revlimid® (lenalidomide) at first relapse for the rare bone marrow cancer myeloma, will be removed from the list.
In response to the announcement Myeloma UK Chief Executive Eric Low said, "The news that these drugs are being removed from the Cancer Drugs Fund is a devastating blow to patients and is a significant step backwards in the treatment of myeloma.
"Myeloma UK has consistently argued that the Cancer Drugs Fund does not address why drugs are not being approved by NICE, and that the Fund is not a long-term solution to underlying access issues.
"This is compounded by the fact that the Government has been far too slow to see and address the critical flaws of the Fund. It has let things develop to the stage where effective and life-prolonging drugs are being brutally delisted from the Fund to cut costs. Other Government attempts to improve the situation, most notably through the pharmaceutical price regulation scheme (PPRS), have also been an abject failure. Taken together, the Government has systematically failed to improve access to cancer medicines in England and should be held to account for this debacle.
"The issues underlying the Cancer Drugs Fund are endemic of a wider problem in the end-to-end development and access of new drugs in the UK. Sustainable, system-wide solutions need to be developed and the top-down Government cost-cutting rather than cost-saving pressures needs to be stopped, otherwise the goal in the new cancer strategy to save 30,000 lives a year is merely a pipe dream."
Relapsed myeloma patients will no longer be able to access these life-prolonging drugs on the NHS, although patients currently receiving the treatment will not have it stopped. Whilst patients will not be able to access Revlimid at first relapse, it is still approved for myeloma patients at second relapse through the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).