Chemosaturation therapy granted NICE approval with special arrangements

Chemosaturation therapy

Melphalan Chemosaturation with percutaneous hepatic artery perfusion and hepatic vein isolation,  commonly known as Chemosaturation therapy, has been granted NICE special arrangements approval to treat patients with liver metastases resulting from primary ocular melanoma. The change in status follows 18 months of consultation with IPAC and NICE to establish the safety and efficacy of the procedure.

Chemosaturation therapy is an innovative technique which has been developed to treat metastatic liver cancer and has been shown to be particularly effective for metastases that have occurred from ocular melanoma. Ocular melanoma is a rare cancer affecting around 600 people a year, of these around 300 will go on to develop liver metastases.

During the procedure, the blood flow from the liver to the rest of the body is diverted (hepatic vein isolation) before the chemotherapy drug melphalan is delivered directly into the liver (percutaneous hepatic artery perfusion), potentially targeting both visible tumours and undetected microtumours. Blood leaving the liver is then taken out of the body and through a specialist filter, CHEMOSAT®, which removes the melphalan before the blood is returned to the body. The aim is to allow high doses of melphalan chemotherapy to be used, which would otherwise not be tolerated because of severe systemic side effects.

CHEMOSAT® National Account Manager, Kirk Chester from medac Pharma, comments: “This is a huge step forward for patients suffering from this rare cancer. We have worked with leading clinicians and OcuMel UK, a dedicated patient support group for people diagnosed with ocular melanoma, to get the status of the procedure changed from research only to special arrangements.  Previously this treatment was only available to patients who funded it themselves, via medical insurance or as part of a clinical trial. NICE’s change of status will allow clinicians to apply for funding on a case by case basis at local NHS level.”

The CHEMOSAT® filtration system manufactured by Delcath in the USA, is sold and marketed by Stirling based pharmaceutical company medac Pharma in the UK. The UK is the world leader in delivering chemosaturation therapy with around 300 treatments carried out to date. The specialist team at Spire Southampton hospital have performed the majority of these treatments but the procedure is also available at the Christie Private Care in Manchester and Harley Street, London.

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