The UK’s cost-effectiveness body has recommended Janssen’s Imbruvica (ibrutinib) for routine NHS treatment of patients with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia. 

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) reached its decision following the agreement of a confidential discount between the Johnson & Johnson subsidiary and the Department of Health.

Imbruvica will now be available as a second-line therapy for adults with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) who have either a 17p or TP53 mutation or form whom chemotherapy is unsuitable.

“This is very welcome news for patients with CLL, who will now be entitled to routinely access ibrutinib on the NHS in England,” said Jennifer Lee, director of health economics, market access and reimbursement and advocacy at Janssen UK. “Janssen is dedicated to ensuring that patients with blood cancer have access to the most effective and innovative therapies.”

Imbruvica had already impressed in its various RESONATE trials – one of which showed the drug to significantly improve progression-free and overall survival compared to GlaxoSmithKline’s Arzerra (ofatumumab).

At the time, NICE had ruled the drug to be too expensive to be a cost-effective routine treatment. With a yearly cost per patient of £55,000, the drug had up until now been funded via the Cancer Drugs Fund, however the agreed discount will now make it available to around 610 patients per year.

Janssen is now awaiting revised first draft guidance for Imbruvica in mantle cell lymphoma and Waldenström’s macroglobulinemia which have both been rejected by NICE.

“Janssen is dedicated to ensuring that patients with blood cancer have access to the most effective and innovative therapies, and we keenly await a similar positive decision by NICE for patients with mantle cell lymphoma and Waldenström’s macroglobulinemia, who currently have limited treatment options available.”

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