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Bayer's liver cancer drug availability spreads to UK with NICE approval

Published on 10/08/17 at 11:53am

NICE has announced that it has given final appraisal recommending Bayer’s Nexavar (sorafenib) for the treatment of advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) – one of the most chemo-resistant tumour types – in patients who have a Child-Pugh grade A liver impairment and who have failed or are unsuitable for surgical or loco-regional therapies.

The decision follows in the footsteps of the European Commission, which recently chose to approve the drug in the same indication in the EU, and now means that the drug will be made widely available on the NHS in England and Wales after it was rejected by the institute last year over cost-effectiveness concerns.

HCC is the most common form of liver cancer and accounts for up to 85% of the global burden from the disease, while liver cancer itself is the third biggest cause of cancer deaths worldwide. Nexavar is a multikinase inhibitor with both anti-proliferative and anti-angiogenic properties, and NICE’s recommendation noted that “after 35 years of research, sorafenib is the only licenced systemic treatment shown to improve overall survival in patients with advanced HCC.”

“Sorafenib, funded through the Cancer Drugs Fund has been the only option of advanced liver cancer patients in England. The new guidance from NICE now puts this funding on a more secure footing so patients and physicians in England will have routine access to a much needed standard of care,” said Amanda Cunnington, Head of Patient Access at Bayer, UK. “Our work does not stop there as we have also recently submitted regorafenib for NICE and SMC review with the hope to also provide the first approved second-line treatment option for patients with HCC, who have previously been treated with sofarenib.”

Andrew Langford, Chief Executive of the British Liver Trust, also added: “We welcome NICE’s decision to recommend access to sorafenib in England. Treatment options for patients with advanced liver cancer have been very limited, but this decision will make sorafenib, which is currently the only approved pharmacological option for patients with hepatocellular carcinoma, more easily available and bring greater long-term certainty for patients. Evidence shows that outcomes for people with advanced liver cancer are particularly poor, so any increase in length of life is very important.”

Matt Fellows

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