New oral treatment available for liver patients with low levels of blood platelets

Posted on: 15th December 2019

A new treatment for people with liver disease who have severely low levels of blood platelets is to be made available to NHS patients across the UK.

The new treatment, ‘Mulpleo’ (lusutrombopag), which comes in tablet form, is approved for treatment for severe thrombocytopenia in patients with chronic liver disease who are undergoing non-emergency invasive procedures.

Thrombocytopenia (deficiency of platelets in the blood) is a common disorder found in patients with chronic liver disease.

The British Liver Trust provided evidence and the views of liver disease patients to NICE and the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) as part of the decision making process. This was key for this new treatment being successfully approved.

It is the first licensed treatment to be made available for these patients through the NHS.

Liver disease and platelet transfusions

In the UK, over 600,000 people have a form of liver disease and 60,000 have cirrhosis.

Platelets are cells in your blood which form clots to help stop bleeding. If the number of platelets in your blood (your platelet count) is too low, doctors may recommend a platelet transfusion. Platelets come from people who donate their blood.

An estimated 3,300 patients with cirrhosis in the UK receive prophylactic platelet transfusions prior to operations and procedures every year. This is an invasive procedure which often involves an overnight stay in hospital.

"We need to take urgent action"

Pamela Healy OBE, Chief Executive of the British Liver Trust, said: “This is fantastic news for patients and healthcare professionals alike. Thrombocytopenia is common in patients with chronic liver disease but it can complicate or delay lifesaving procedures.

“This new treatment will make it easier to for these procedures to go ahead safely and in a timely manner.

“Chronic liver disease is a huge burden in the UK; the number of deaths has increased by 400% since 1970 and it is now responsible for the highest number of premature deaths in 35-49 year olds.”

“We need to take urgent action to address this, by taking to steps to improve both the treatment and the prevention of liver disease.”

Find out more

You can read the full NICE guidance here and the full SMC guidance here.