UK panel rejects CAR T-cell therapy due to cost

An independent body that offers guidance to improve health and social care in England recommended against the use of axicabtagene ciloleucel, one of two chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapies already approved in the United States and European Union.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) issued draft guidance today that said axicabtagene ciloleucel (Yescarta; Kite Pharma, Gilead) — which received FDA approval last year for treatment of certain B-cell lymphomas — is too expensive to justify its use in England’s National Health Service (NHS).

The list price for axicabtagene ciloleucel in the United States is $373,000. However, the price in the United Kingdom remains confidential.

“[CAR T-cell therapy] is an exciting innovation in very difficult-to-treat cancers, with a promise of cure for some patients,” Meindert Boysen, director of the center for health technology evaluation at NICE, said in a press release.

“We have been working with the companies involved, and with NHS England, with the aim of ensuring that patients in England are among the first to have access to these new treatments in Europe,” Boysen added. “Although promising, there is still much more we need to know about [CAR T-cell therapy]. … Unfortunately, in this case, we are not able to recommend axicabtagene ciloleucel for use in the NHS in England at the cost per patient set by Kite Pharma.”

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