The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has today announced that polatuzumab vedotin (Polivy®) will be available on the NHS in England for adults with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) that has come back (relapsed) or not responded (refractory) after at least one previous course of treatment and who aren’t able to have a stem cell transplant.
Polatuzumab vedotin is a type of treatment called an antibody–drug conjugate: an antibody joined to a strong anti-cancer drug. The antibody sticks to protein called CD79b on the surface of B cells (the cells that are abnormal in DLBCL). This carries the drug directly to the B cells and kills them. It is given in combination with bendamustine (a chemotherapy drug) and rituximab.
Antibody–drug conjugates have not been used to treat DLBCL before and represent a new approach to relapsed or refractory disease. In clinical trials, polatuzumab vedotin significantly improved outcomes in people with relapsed or refractory DLBCL, including people who had not responded to previous courses of treatment.
Wales and Northern Ireland usually follow NICE recommendations.
UPDATE: On 7 September, the Scottish Medicines Consortium confirmed that polatuzumab vedotin, in combinaton with bendamustine and rituximab, will also be available on the NHS in Scotland for adults with relapsed or refractory DLBCL that has come back (relapsed) who aren’t able to have a stem cell transplant.