Clinical trial results show that Glivec helps 90% of patients with myeloid leukaemia survive for five years or more. In the UK the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) only wanted to approve its use for patients with advanced myeloid leukaemia. Patients with gastrointestinal stromal tumours also seem to benefit from Glivec.
Having a patient on Glivec costs the UK National Health Service (NHS) about Ј14,000 per year ($26,000). In the UK the state pays for medical treatment. There are 600 patients with Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia (CML) in the UK.
In 2002, NICE advised only giving Glivec to some CML patients. After lots of lobbying, NICE increased the number of people who could receive it.
Myeloid leukaemia is a form of blood cancer, there is a defect in the production of white blood cells in the bone marrow. Glivec attacks molecules that cause the cancer while leaving other healthy cells intact. Unlike chemotherapy, which has unpleasant side-effects, Glivec doesn’t.
A recent clinical trial, called IRIS, funded by Glivec makers Novartis, found that 93% of newly diagnosed ML (myeloid leukaemia) patients taking Glivec did not then go on to develop more advanced stages of the cancer. 83% of all patients on the trial survived for five years with no evidence that their disease had progressed. Just 4.6% of the trial participants died as a result of ML progression. In the first year of treatment 69% of patients responded well to treatment, on the fifth year 87% responded well.
Without Glivec, ML advances from within 4 to 6 years. Prognosis is not good.
Patients with advanced GISTs (Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumours) would normally expect to survive about 15 months with chemotherapy treatment. With Glivec treatment they survived an average of 58 months.