After the bad news yesterday, where it was announced that 25 cancer drugs will be removed from the Cancer Drugs Fund (read the full story here), I come with better news. NHS Wales will be providing access to ponatinib for ALL phases of chronic myeloid leukaemia. In England ponatinib is only available on the Cancer Drugs Fund if the patient has the T315i mutation. This progressive step by NHS Wales, based on the Phase 2 PACE trial, gives patients in Wales another, much needed line of treatment against CML. I hope that authorities in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland take note of this step forward when they assess, or reassess, ponatinib for their respective countries.

Thanks, Kris

The positive assessment from the AWMSG is the first UK Health Technology Assessment (HTA) of Iclusig

Leatherhead, UK, 9 January 2015 — The Minister for Health and Social Services in Wales has ratified the recommendation from the All Wales Medicines Strategy Group (AWMSG) to approve Iclusig® (ponatinib) as a cost-effective treatment to be used in NHS Wales for the treatment of all phases of chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) and Philadelphia chromosome positive acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (Ph+ ALL), in accordance with Iclusig’s licensed indication.

CML is a cancer of the white blood cells that is diagnosed in approximately 7,000 patients each year in Europe. The incidence of CML in Wales is 1.4 and 0.9 per 100,000 males and females, respectively. Iclusig is a targeted cancer medicine discovered and developed at ARIAD Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

We are delighted that the Minister has endorsed the positive AWMSG recommendation, recognising the innovative nature of Iclusig and the potential benefit it can bring to cancer patients in Wales,” said Mark Tanner, General Manager, ARIAD UK. “Our goal is to deliver innovative solutions that address gaps in care for patients who are left with few clinical treatment options. Iclusig offers a new treatment option for many of these patients.

The approval by the AWMSG was based on results from the pivotal Phase 2 PACE (Ponatinib Ph+ ALL and CML Evaluation) trial in patients with CML or Ph+ ALL who were resistant or intolerant to prior tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) therapy, or who had the T315I mutation of BCR-ABL. In Europe, Iclusig was approved in July 2013 for the treatment of adult patients with:

  • Chronic phase, accelerated phase, or blast phase chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) who are resistant to dasatinib or nilotinib; who are intolerant to dasatinib or nilotinib and for whom subsequent treatment with imatinib is not clinically appropriate; or who have the T315I mutation;
  • Philadelphia chromosome positive acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (Ph+ ALL) who are resistant to dasatinib; who are intolerant to dasatinib and for whom subsequent treatment with imatinib is not clinically appropriate; or who have the T315I mutation.

We welcome the ratification of the recommendation from the AWMSG for the treatment of CML and Ph+ ALL with Iclusig in all its licensed indications,” commented David Ryner, Chair of the Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia Support Group. “Although the number of patients qualifying for treatment will be limited, access to Iclusig represents an opportunity to make a significant difference to their lives. We would like to see the same opportunity made available to all other qualifying patients, no matter where they live in the UK.”

About Iclusig® (ponatinib)
Iclusig is a kinase inhibitor. The primary target for Iclusig is BCR-ABL, an abnormal tyrosine kinase that is expressed in chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) and Philadelphia-chromosome positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia (Ph+ ALL). Iclusig was designed using ARIAD’s computational and structure-based drug design platform specifically to inhibit the activity of BCR-ABL. Iclusig targets not only native BCR-ABL but also its isoforms that carry mutations that confer resistance to treatment, including the T315I mutation, which has been associated with resistance to other approved TKIs.

About CML and Ph+ ALL
CML is a cancer of the white blood cells that is diagnosed in approximately 7,000 patients each year in Europe.Error: Reference source not found CML is characterised by an excessive and unregulated production of white blood cells by the bone marrow due to a genetic abnormality that produces the BCR-ABL protein. After a chronic phase of production of too many white blood cells, CML typically evolves to the more aggressive phases referred to as accelerated phase and blast crisis. Ph+ ALL is a subtype of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia that carries the Ph+ chromosome that produces BCR-ABL. It has a more aggressive course than CML and is often treated with a combination of chemotherapy and tyrosine kinase inhibitors. The BCR-ABL protein is expressed in both of these diseases.

ARIAD Pharmaceuticals, Inc., headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts and Lausanne, Switzerland, is an integrated global oncology company focused on transforming the lives of cancer patients with breakthrough medicines.  ARIAD is working on new medicines to advance the treatment of various forms of chronic and acute leukaemia, lung cancer and other difficult-to-treat cancers.  ARIAD utilises computational and structural approaches to design small-molecule drugs that overcome resistance to existing cancer medicines.  For additional information, visit or follow ARIAD on Twitter (@ARIADPharm).

Iclusig® is a registered trademark of ARIAD Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

You can download the original release here: AWMSG approval_FINAL release_090115