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NICE turns down Shire's pancreatic cancer treatment

Published on 04/04/17 at 11:46am

NICE has announced its intention not to recommend the NHS use of Shire’s Onivyde (pegylated liposomal irinotecan) for the treatment of metastatic pancreatic cancer that has progressed following gemcitabine-based therapy.

The committee came to the decision based on evidence for the use of the drug in combination with 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), a chemotherapy drug, and leucovorin (LV), which improves the effect of 5-FU. Onivyde consists of fat particles to which the anticancer treatment irinotecan has been added, meaning that the drug can travel into a tumour and slowly inhibit its ability to grow, eventually leading to its death.

The combination of Onivyde, 5-FU and LV has shown to generate an overall median survival rate of 6.1 months compared to the 4.2 months provided by 5-FU and LV alone. However, NICE judged that, when compared to the clinical standard of oxaliplatin plus 5-FU and LV, Onivyde did not present any significant benefits. With this comparison in mind, the committee could not deem the treatment a cost-effective use of NHS resources, despite the uncertainty of the evidence available.

Pancreatic cancer is an aggressive form of the disease affecting up to 10,000 new patients a year in the UK, with only 3% of sufferers surviving for more than five years. This decision leaves patients with limited options to treat the illness; today, survival rates are often less than six months.

Matt Fellows

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