Glivec, a drug used to treat chronic myeloid leukemia has shown to improve the survival rates in 90 percent of patients with the cancer. The National Institute for health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), which regulates drug approvals in the UK had only wanted to approve Glivec for advanced cases, but the drug has not proved itself in clinical trials.
CML is a common form of blood cancer, which arises due to a defect in the production of white blood cells. Glivec targets only the affected molecules and leaves the healthy ones unaffected. But it is an expensive drug and costs at least £14,000 per patient per year.
Results from the IRIS study showed that 93 percent of patients taking the drug in early stages did not progress to advanced stage. Also 83 percent had good survival rate of five years. Before the introduction of Glivec, CML had poor prognosis with survival rates of only four to six years.
Sandy Craine, from CML Support, who took part in the trial said, "I never would have believed I would be standing here today. Glivec helped save my life and I am grateful that I can pass on this message of hope to others diagnosed with this once devastating disease."
Professor Charles Craddock, director of Stem Cell Transplant Unit, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, added, "The significant success of Glivec in treating CML is an exciting model for the development of new treatments for other cancers."