Call for multiple myeloma therapeutic programme

The country’s leading haematologists have called on the Health Ministry to improve access to lenalidomide (Revlimid, Celgene), a medicine used in the treatment of multiple myeloma, by changing the procedure under which it is reimbursed.

The experts would like the ministry to create a new therapeutic programme for multiple myeloma that would allow for the application of various immunomodulating treatments, including lenalidomide, bortezomib and thalidomide, depending on the particular needs of a given patient.

At the moment, lenalidomide is only available as a non-standard chemotherapy, approved by the National Health Fund (NFZ) on a case-by-case basis under a very time-consuming procedure. In 2008 an application for the reimbursement of lenalidomide was negatively evaluated by the Health Technology Assessment Agency (AOTM), which recommended the inclusion of the drug into a therapeutic programme as the preferred form of state-financing, but on the condition that its price is similar to bortezomib. In 2009 a therapeutic programme was launched with bortezomib approved for cases in which first-line therapy failed. But according to experts at the Multiple Myeloma Treatment Centre Foundation and the Polish Myeloma Group, this is grossly insufficient. They cite statistics showing that in the Czech Republic – a country with a population one fourth the size of Poland’s – 200 patients are receiving lenalidomide, against 50 in Poland, and the drug is available via a therapeutic programme.