NICE recommends two CAR T treatments for blood cancers to the Cancer Drugs Fund

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has announced that it is recommending two personalised immunotherapy treatments to the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) for the treatment of aggressive forms of blood cancers.
Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR T) therapy takes the patient’s own immune system cells ‒ T-cells ‒ and alters them in the lab to attach to and kill cancer cells. Both recommended CAR T therapies are one-off treatments introduced to the patient’s bloodstream.
Axicabtagene ciloleucel (Yescarta, Kite) is recommended for adult patients with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) that returns within a year of treatment, or is resistant to first-line chemoimmunotherapy. At the moment, the treatment is only available as standard care after two or more systemic therapies ‒ this new recommendation will make it available after one therapy.
Brexucabtagene autoleucel (Tecartus, Kite) is recommended to treat relapsed or refractory B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in people aged 26 and over. Standard-of-care treatment at the moment includes chemotherapy and immunotherapies, however after the new recommendation Brexucabtagene autoleucel will be offered as an additional treatment.
Offering these treatments through the CDF allows data to be collected, so hesitations around the treatments’ long-term efficacy and wider NHS applications can be addressed. Since 2016, NICE has made 55 CDF recommendations and more than 55,000 patients have benefited.
Helen Knight, director of medicines evaluation at NICE, said: “We know the devastating impact lymphoma and leukaemia have on people. These innovative new treatment options will help people live longer and improve their quality of life. Around 1,000 people in total could benefit from a range of different CAR T therapies, including these latest treatments, which have all been recommended by NICE in recent months. We are committed to constantly learning from data and implementation, so patients can benefit from groundbreaking treatments while more information is gathered, which will hopefully lead to them being offered routinely on the NHS in the future.”