Skin cancerPomalidomide, a treatment for multiple myeloma, has been rejected by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellent (NICE) in its final draft guidance.

Multiple myeloma is a type of cancer that affects plasma cells, which are white blood cell found in the bone marrow. Although it is incurable, there are a number of treatment options to help slow the progress of the disease and improve quality of life.

NICE recommends thalidomide for most patients as a first line treatment, and bortezomib for people who are unable to take thalidomide and also as an option after the first treatment has stopped working. For people who have received two prior treatments NICE recommends lenalidomide. This appraisal considers the use of pomalidomide for treating multiple myeloma after third or subsequent relapse.

Commenting on the draft guidance, Sir Andrew Dillon, NICE chief executive, said: “NICE has already recommended a number of treatment options for multiple myeloma – thalidomide, bortezomib and lenalidomide – which can greatly improve the length of time someone can live with the disease and their quality of life.

“Unfortunately we cannot recommend pomalidomide as the analyses from Celgene, the company that markets pomalidomide, showed that the drug does not offer enough benefit to justify its high price.”

The draft guidance is now with consultees, who have the opportunity to appeal against it. Until NICE issues final guidance, NHS bodies should make decisions locally on the funding of specific treatments. This draft guidance does not mean that people currently taking pomalidomide will stop receiving it. They have the option to continue treatment until they and their clinicians consider it appropriate to stop.