Blood cancer patients to benefit from £3,000 per dose Trojan

Thousands of blood cancer patients set to benefit from new £3,000-a-dose Trojan drug that cuts risk of disease coming back by a quarter

  • Some 5,500 Britons suffer from diffuse large B-cell lymphoma each year
  • It is hoped that patients with other blood cancers will be able to receive the drug Polivy
  • The MRHA approved the use of the drug in newly diagnosed patients

Thousands of blood cancer patients could be given a ‘Trojan horse’ drug that hunts out tumor cells and destroys them from within, after UK regulators gave the drug the green light last week.

Administered in the form of an infusion, the targeted treatment is able to reduce the risk of recurrence of the disease by a quarter.

Experts have previously hailed the drug, called Polivy, as the “biggest breakthrough in two decades” for people suffering from the most common type of the disease. The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) announced that it had approved the use of the drug in certain patients newly diagnosed with blood cancer.

Experts have previously hailed the drug, called Polivy, as the “biggest breakthrough in two decades” for people suffering from the most common type of the disease. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) announced that it had approved the use of the drug in certain patients newly diagnosed with blood cancer

Britons with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma – a form of the disease which affects 5,500 people each year – will be the first to benefit, but experts say patients with many other types of blood cancer could receive Polivy in the years to come. Studies show that cancer is more common in men and usually affects people in their 60s. Sufferers will usually initially have lumps, often on the neck, fatigue, and profuse night sweats.

Currently, once diagnosed, these patients receive chemotherapy to fight the cancer. Two-thirds of the time treatment is successful, but for one-third of people with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, the disease will return and be highly resistant to cancer therapies. Less than a third of lymphoma patients who relapse will survive more than five years.

NHS spending watchdogs will now decide whether Polivy ¿ made by Roche ¿ is worth its £3,000 per dose price

NHS spending watchdogs will now decide whether Polivy – made by Roche – is worth its £3,000 per dose price

In December 2021, The Mail on Sunday revealed that a British trial showed that patients who took Polivy, also called polatuzumab vedotin, in combination with several chemotherapy drugs, saw their risk of relapse decrease by a quarter.

Although significantly more effective than chemotherapy, the trial found that Polivy had no additional side effects compared to standard treatment.

Polivy is an antibody-drug conjugate. This means it uses artificial proteins to find tumors in the blood and deliver chemotherapy drugs directly to cancer cells.

NHS spending watchdogs will now decide whether Polivy – made by Roche – is worth its price of £3,000 per dose.

Dr Graham Collins, consultant haematologist at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and researcher on the UK Polivy trial, says the positive impact of the drug fully justifies the cost. He adds: ‘It will mean fewer relapses, which will save the NHS money in the long run. This approval is a crucial step in the right direction for blood cancer patients.

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