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Ruxolitinib approved for treatment of polycythaemia vera in England and Wales

15th Sep 2023 - Edward Pinches

The drug, ruxolitinib, has been recommended for use by NICE to treat the blood cancer polycythaemia vera in patients whose disease is resistant or intolerant to the treatments hydroxycarbamide/hydroxyurea.

A patient smiles at a health care professional in a hospital room

Polycythaemia vera (PV) is a form of blood cancer caused by a mutation in a gene called JAK2 which can cause blood clots. Those living with the disease have a risk of reduced life expectancy as well as developing more aggressive blood cancers including myelofibrosis and acute leukaemia.

One of the commonly used treatments for PV is a drug called hydroxycarbamide, but patients who don't respond to this drug have a poor prognosis.

Our charity's research on ruxolitinib shows several important advantages of the drug, including its ability to better control PV, leaving patients with normal blood counts and a reduced spleen size. Ruxolitinib has been approved in the US for this group of patients for nearly ten years.

It’s promising that ruxolitinib has now been approved for use in people in England and Wales.”

- Blood Cancer UK spokesperson

Blood cancer is the fifth most common cause of cancer in the UK, affecting over a quarter of a million people.

There is currently no cure for polycythaemia vera and there are a number of complications that can arise from it – so designing, developing and testing medicines to give people with blood cancer the best outcome possible is vitally important.

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