New NHS blood cancer treatment approved for use in Wales

Drugs research Image copyright Thinkstock

A new treatment for people who suffer from a form of blood cancer has been approved by the Welsh Government.

Adult patients with newly-diagnosed multiple myeloma will now be able to access the drug Revlimid, in combination with dexamethasone.

The cancer develops in bone marrow and attacks blood cells, which can cause bone damage and kidney ­problems.

The Welsh Government said it was pleased to make the drug available "where clinically appropriate".

The most recent figures, in 2013, showed nearly 300 new cases of multiple myeloma were diagnosed in Wales.

Dr Ceri Bygrave, consultant haematologist at Cardiff's University Hospital of Wales, said: "Multiple myeloma is a deadly form of blood cancer, for which there is a need for new treatment approaches and combinations.

"People with the disease live with the constant uncertainty of relapse."

She added: "[The approval of Revlimid] brings an important additional option to Welsh patients who have just received diagnosis of a largely incurable disease."

Image copyright Deb Richardson
Image caption Deb Richardson said she may have to access the new treatment

Mother-of-four Deb Richardson, 48, from Pontypool in Torfaen, welcomed the move.

She was diagnosed with smouldering myeloma, the precursor to multiple myeloma, in 2012 and has to undergo treatment at Nevill Hall Hospital in Abergavenny every eight weeks.

"When I was diagnosed it was a shock because I had pain in my hip which I just thought was arthritis," she said.

"To hear that treatment is available elsewhere, but not in your area, that's hard to take. It's a real postcode lottery.

"With myeloma, a treatment that works for one patient might not work for another, so a new form of treatment could give someone another chance of life."

The All Wales Medicine Strategy Group recommended making Revlimid, also known as lenalidomide, available for Welsh patients with previously untreated multiple myeloma.

NHS Scotland and Northern Ireland approved patient access to this drug combination in December 2015 and April 2016 respectively.

It has been available in England only for patients who have received two or more prior therapies since 2009.

A Welsh Government spokesman said: "In Wales, we are proud to take an evidence-based approach towards the introduction of new medicines in the NHS.

"We were pleased to ratify All Wales Medicine Strategy Group's recommendation to make this new drug available for patients in Wales where clinically appropriate.

"We welcome the manufacturer's engagement with our appraisal process and our Wales Patient Access Scheme. "

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