NICE urges the producers of cancer drugs to reduce their costs from £770,000 per patient per year.

NICE urges the producers of newly EU approved cancer drugs used to treat aggressive blood cancers, including non-Hodgkin lymphoma, to reduce its price tag of £770,000 per patient each year, based on story in the Daily Mail yesterday.

According to the Mail’s story, the drug treatment called CAR-T therapy works by boosting the body’s immune system, using hormones to attack the cancer itself.

Medical trials have shown that almost 50% of patients have gone into remission. But more evidence is needed, as there are side effects which can range, for example from water on the brain and fatalities.

Dr Alasdair Rankin, director of research and patient experience at the blood cancer charity Bloodwise, said: ‘CAR-T therapies are an entirely new type of treatment and are expensive, so it understandable that there will be a number of uncertainties and questions that need to be answered.

‘We hope over the coming weeks the NHS and the pharmaceutical company can work to address these issues and agree on a price so that patients can benefit.’

Professor Raj Chopra, head of cancer therapeutics at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, one of the country’s leading cancer units, said: ‘It’s disappointing that patients with non-Hodgkin lymphoma who have exhausted all other treatment options will not be able to access CAR T cell therapy – a brand new type of treatment for blood cancers.

‘CAR-T cell therapy uses a patient’s own genetically modified immune cells to target their cancer.

‘The technique is complex and expensive, but it is also a major advance in cancer treatment that has cured some patients who would otherwise have died.

‘If we’re going to see CAR-T therapy widely available on the NHS, we need to find ways to reduce the costs.

Meindert Boysen, director of the centre for health technology evaluation at Nice, said: ‘CAR-T is an exciting innovation in very difficult to treat cancers, with a promise of cure for some patients.’

CAR-T therapy has been recently approved by the European regulators.