Thousands of leukaemia patients are to benefit from a new cancer treatment after health officials said that it could be used in the NHS.
Patients in England with an incurable blood cancer will have access to the twice-daily pill.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) approved acalabrutinib for NHS use for patients with untreated chronic lymphocytic leukaemia.
It is estimated that some 2,395 patients will be eligible for treatment every year – offering them a chemotherapy free treatment which can be administered at home.
Officials said the move is particularly beneficial during the pandemic as it means that many patients will not need to visit hospital for their treatment.
Meindert Boysen, deputy chief executive and director of the Centre for Health Technology Evaluation at Nice, said: “Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia has a debilitating effect on the daily lives of those living with it.
“As the most common type of leukaemia in England, more targeted treatment options are very much needed and welcomed.”
Nice said the drug has “fewer side effects than existing NHS treatments” and should improve the quality of life for people with the most common type of leukaemia.
The drug usually costs £169 per day – a 30-day pack of the drug, also known as Calquence and developed by AstraZeneca, usually costs £5,059.
But NHS officials have agreed a confidential agreement to get the drug at a discount.
Dr Fatima Sulaiman, head of research for Blood Cancer UK, said: “This is really good news, as it means thousands of people with the most common type of leukaemia will have access to another treatment option that could make a positive difference to their lives.
“In particular, there is evidence that for some people with CLL, acalabrutinib slows progression more than the standard treatment and will also improve quality of life.”