NHS England Announces Availability of CAR-T Treatment for Young Cancer Patients

NHS patients are set to benefit from access to Novartis’s ground-breaking Kymriah after NHS England rapidly approves fundingDeal marks the first time patients in Europe have routine access to CAR-T therapies

National Health Service (NHS) England has announced a deal with Novartis to grant young patients access to the Company’s CAR-T (chimeric antigen receptor T-cell) treatment, Kymriah. The treatment can now be made available, on the NHS, for eligible patients – children and young adults up to 25 years old who have advanced B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia and are not responding to standard therapies.

CAR-T is a cutting-edge treatment for aggressive leukaemia that is specifically developed for each patient. A patient’s immune cells are extracted, genetically reprogrammed in a laboratory to kill cancer cells and then transfused back into the original patient.

“Such early adoption in the NHS is a truly remarkable milestone and the fastest adoption of almost any drug, let alone an innovative high-priced medicine, that I can recall. These new transformative medicines are bringing lifesaving medicines to patients. The UK is clearly building one of the world’s best ecosystem for research, development, regulation, manufacture, evaluation and clinical adoption of advanced therapies.”

Keith Thompson, CEO, Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult

This is a major landmark in accessing CAR-T and other personalised cancer therapies, setting the scene for the expanding pipeline of cell and gene therapies.

Novartis negotiated what the NHS calls a “fair and affordable” price for Kymriah resulting in this fast approval. The funding for this CAR-T therapy will come from the Cancer Drugs Fund, set up in 2011 to provide fast-track access on the NHS to the most promising new cancer treatments. With the recent development, it is possible that patients will be treated within weeks after the approval.