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NICE recommends multiple myeloma drug

Draft recommendations on Velcade (bortezomib) from the UK's NICE could mean a potential new treatment for multiple myeloma

Draft recommendations on Velcade (bortezomib) from the UK's National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) could herald a potential new treatment for multiple myeloma.

Janssen-Cilag, the pharma company in charge of the product's commercialisation in Europe, is encouraged by the draft guidance from NICE recommending the use of bortezomib in combination with an alkylating agent and a corticosteroid.

This combination acts as an option for the first-line treatment of multiple myeloma in people for whom high-dose chemotherapy with stem cell transplantation is considered inappropriate and who are unable to tolerate or have contraindications to thalidomide.

The NICE recommendation, if accepted, will mean that these patients will be able to access bortezomib as a frontline treatment.

Dr Peter Barnes, medical director at Janssen-Cilag UK, said: "We are pleased that NICE has taken a step in the right direction with this recommendation. However, we are confident that the clinical data and efficacy demonstrate that Velcade could be used in a broader range of patients than is contained in the draft guidance in the frontline setting.

"We will work constructively with NICE to demonstrate this evidence in the hope of extending the draft recommendation to more patients."

Multiple myeloma is a fatal blood cancer that nearly 4,000 patients across the UK develop each year. Between 14,000 and 20,000 people in the UK are sufferers.

Final NICE guidance for newly diagnosed patients is expected later this year.

Bortezomib was approved by NICE in 2007 at first relapse, since when it has become a standard of care for multiple myeloma patients in this setting across England and Wales.

2nd June 2010

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