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NICE approves lung cancer and leukaemia treatments

Published on 24/08/16 at 09:10am

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has issued its approval of two drugs for routine use on the NHS: Pfizer’s leukaemia drug Bosulif (bosutinib) and Eli Lilly’s lung cancer treatment Alimta (pemetrexed). 

The drugs have been approved following the submission of cost analyses and discounted prices to justify the treatments as cost-effective. Both drugs were previously available on the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF); this move comes as part of the organisation’s reassessment of drugs previously available on the old CDF following its recent reformation.

Bosutinib is used to treat chronic myeloid leukaemia in people who have a genetic abnormality known as the Philadelphia chromosome which causes the overproduction of white blood cells. The treatment, costing £45,000 per patient per year, is only recommended when other treatments no longer work or are otherwise inappropriate. NICE originally rejected the drug in 2013.

Pemetrexed is already recommended by NICE, following an earlier rejection, as maintenance treatment for some people with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer, but this news means it will now be routinely available as a maintenance treatment for a broader group of patients. The drug costs around £11,500 per patient.

Professor Carole Longson, director of the centre for health technology evaluation at NICE, said: “It’s great to see that companies are engaging with our CDF reconsideration process in a constructive way, resulting in these positive recommendations. Patients with chronic myeloid leukaemia and lung cancer will now be reassured that these drugs are available for routine NHS use. This is good news. As these drugs move into routine budgets, CDF funding can be freed up for other new and innovative cancer treatments.”

Matt Fellows

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