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NICE recommends ovarian cancer drug Caelyx

Published on 27/09/13 at 09:53am

NICE has recommended that Janssen’s Caelyx should be used on the NHS to treat recurring ovarian cancer.

It is a fillip for the Johnson & Johnson company that seems to have overcome the manufacturing problems, which bedevilled supply of the drug in recent years.

In draft guidance the UK drug pricing watchdog said that Caelyx (pegylated liposomal doxorubicin hydrochloride or PLDH) and standard chemotherapy paclitaxel should be used when the disease has returned for the first time six months or more after platinum-based chemotherapy.

But it has not been such good news for three other treatments: PharmaMar’s Yondelis (trabectedin) plus the generics gemcitabine (marketed by Lilly as Gemzar) and topetecan do not warrant a place on NICE’s proposed list, offering “little benefit to patients compared with other options that can be used at these stages”.

Yondelis - recommended by the NICE as a possible treatment for people with advanced soft tissue sarcoma – does not make the cut even though it is authorised in the UK, in combination with PLDH, for relapsed platinum-sensitive ovarian cancer.

Caelyx is an anthracycline whose UK marketing authorisation is for the treatment of advanced ovarian cancer when a first-line platinum-based chemotherapy regimen has failed.

The various manufacturers, as well as doctors and members of the public, will be able to add their views to the consultation until 18 October, after which a second draft will be published: final guidance is expected to be issued in 2014.

Topetecan is also not recommended for treating cancer that has returned less than 6 months after treatment with a platinum-based regimen or which did not respond to platinum at all.

“These difficult decisions help the NHS to allocate its limited resources fairly,” said Sir Andrew Dillon, NICE chief executive. “This draft guidance recommends paclitaxel and pegylated liposomal doxorubicin hydrochloride for the treatment of ovarian cancer that has returned after previous treatment with chemotherapy. But the committee found the other treatments were not cost-effective.”

Ovarian cancer is the fifth most common in women, and up to three-quarters of sufferers face the prospect of their cancer returning within two years of finishing treatment, with an overall five-year survival rate of approximately 43 per cent.

It occurs mainly in older women, with over 80% of cases in those aged over 50 years: in the UK in 2010 there were 7,000 new cases and around 4,300 deaths from the disease.

Adam Hill


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