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The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has recommended a brand new oral treatment for NHS use to treat an incurable blood cancer.

Acalabrutinib, taken as a twice daily tablet, is recommended as an option for adults with untreated chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL), NICE said today (April 21).

NICE has recommended the use of acalabrutinib as a monotherapy option for adults with:

  • a 17p deletion or TP53 mutation, or
  • no 17p deletion or TP53 mutation, and fludarabine plus cyclophosphamide and rituximab (FCR), or bendamustine plus rituximab (BR) is unsuitable.

It can also be considered as an option for adults who have previously been treated for CLL.

The people with CLL who have high-risk disease or cannot have standard chemotherapy can be offered the monotherapy treatment acalabrutinib which can be taken at home.

“This is particularly beneficial during the current Covid-19 pandemic because it means that untreated CLL patients who would previously need to visit a hospital to have a combination therapy involving an intravenous administration no longer need to do so,” the NICE said.

Meindert Boysen, deputy chief executive and director of the Centre for Health Technology Evaluation at NICE, said: “Evidence submitted to our independent appraisal committee showed that acalabrutinib is clinically effective in chronic lymphocytic leukaemia and that it will improve the quality of life for those living with this condition. We are therefore very pleased to make this positive recommendation.”

A 30-day pack of acalabrutinib capsules, also known as Calquence and developed by AstraZeneca, costs £5,059.

The company has a confidential commercial arrangement which allows NHS organisations to access the drug at a discount.

CLL is a malignant disorder of white blood cells and is the most common type of leukaemia in England.

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