Obinutuzumab – marketed by Roche – works by attaching itself to the surface of abnormal white blood cells, which are overproduced in CLL, and then causes the cells to die. CLL is the most common form of leukaemia in England with about 2,700 people diagnosed with the condition each year.
Professor Carole Longson, centre for health technology evaluation director at NICE, said: “We are pleased that Roche provided further analyses to allow us to propose recommending obinutuzumab as a treatment option for untreated chronic lymphocytic leukaemia.
“Half of the people who need treatment for their condition are not able to use the standard first-line treatment of fludarabine combination therapy. NICE recommends alternative treatment with bendamustine, but there are some patients for whom this is also unsuitable.
“Obinutuzumab is a clinically effective treatment which is associated with fewer adverse events and provides another option to help prevent people’s disease from progressing.”
NICE recommends obinutuzumab for some people with CLL on the basis that Roche provides the treatment to the NHS at a reduced price. The company has agreed with the Department of Health that the size of the discount is to be confidential.