NHS prepared to fast-track CAR-T therapy

The treatment which works by genetically engineering a patient’s killer T-cells to recognise and destroy cancer cells.

Trials have been hugely successful – having already put patient’s who had only been given months to live, into remission.

The treatment costs £340,000 per patient, way above the usual £50,000 NHS ceiling for a life-saving drug.

Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, suggests the NHS should embrace such treatments:

“The NHS has a proud history of delivering pioneering treatments. As we celebrate the 70th anniversary, the NHS is working harder than ever to save lives and improve care by embracing cutting edge technology like CAR-T therapy and spreading innovation across the whole health service. However, we can’t do this alone, and we need the help of the manufacturers to ensure we can get these treatments to patients as quickly and cost-effectively as possible. Preparations are under way to make CAR-T, one of the most innovative treatments that has ever been offered on the NHS, available to patients, but manufacturers need to set fair and affordable prices, so treatments can be made available to all who need them.”

Prof Charles Swanton, Cancer Research UK’s Chief Clinician said it was:

“Very exciting to see that the NHS is exploring the very latest developments in immunotherapy for cancer patients. CAR-T cell therapies have shown great promise in some patients with specific types of blood cancer, but the treatment is complicated, highly personalised and can cause severe side effects in some patients. The process of genetically altering a patient’s own immune cells is immensely complex and also very expensive. We hope that manufacturers can agree on a deal that ensures affordable access for patients in the UK as soon as possible, to achieve long-term remissions and even cures.”