A new treatment for people who suffer from a form of blood cancer has been approved by the Welsh Government.
Adult patients with newly-diagnosed multiple myeloma will now be able to access the drug Revlimid, in combination with dexamethasone.
The cancer develops in bone marrow and attacks blood cells, which can cause bone damage and kidney problems.
The Welsh Government said it was pleased to make the drug available “where clinically appropriate”.
The most recent figures, in 2013, showed nearly 300 new cases of multiple myeloma were diagnosed in Wales.
Revlimid, also known as lenalidomide, was approved for use within NHS Scotland in December 2015 and Northern Ireland in April 2016, but is not currently available in England.
Dr Ceri Bygrave, consultant haematologist at Cardiff’s University Hospital of Wales, said: “Multiple myeloma is a deadly form of blood cancer, for which there is a need for new treatment approaches and combinations.
“People with the disease live with the constant uncertainty of relapse.”
She added: “[The approval of Revlimid] brings an important additional option to Welsh patients who have just received diagnosis of a largely incurable disease.”
Mother-of-four Deb Richardson, 48, from Pontypool in Torfaen, welcomed the move.
She was diagnosed with smouldering myeloma, the precursor to multiple myeloma, in 2012 and has to undergo treatment at Nevill Hall Hospital in Abergavenny every eight weeks.
“When I was diagnosed it was a shock because I had pain in my hip which I just thought was arthritis,” she said.
“To hear that treatment is available elsewhere, but not in your area, that’s hard to take. It’s a real postcode lottery.
“With myeloma, a treatment that works for one patient might not work for another, so a new form of treatment could give someone another chance of life.”
A Welsh Government spokesman said: “In Wales, we are proud to take an evidence-based approach towards the introduction of new medicines in the NHS.
“We were pleased to ratify All Wales Medicine Strategy Group’s recommendation to make this new drug available for patients in Wales where clinically appropriate.
“We welcome the manufacturer’s engagement with our appraisal process and our Wales Patient Access Scheme. “