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NICE recommends Keytruda via CDF as first and only urothelial carcinoma immunotherapy

Published on 16/03/18 at 09:55am

UK drugs watchdog NICE has published its finance guidance recommending the use of MSD’s Keytruda (pembrolizumab) on the NHS through the Cancer Drugs Fund for the treatment of locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma in adults who have had platinum-containing chemotherapy. The decision makes the drug the first and only immunotherapy to be approved for use on the health service by the agency.

The recommendation did include the caveat that treatment with Keytruda should be stopped after two years of uninterrupted treatment or earlier in the event of disease progression.

The decision indicates that, on the procurement of more compelling data, Keytruda could meet NICE’s criteria for routine use on the NHS.

Urothelial cancer is by far the most common form of bladder cancer, accounting for around 90% of all cases, and the wider condition is the 7th most prevalent form of the disease in the UK. It is the only one of the top ten most common cancers where prognoses getting worse, with only around 10% of patients surviving more than 10 years.

"Outcomes of patients with chemotherapy refractory metastatic bladder cancer remain stubbornly poor. Pembrolizumab is the first immune checkpoint inhibitor in this setting to show extended survival in this group of patients,” commented Professor Thomas Powles, Director of Barts Cancer Centre in London. “This opens a new chapter in the treatment of bladder cancer. NICE's recommendation for pembrolizumab is a bright ray of light for patients with this difficult disease.”

Allen Knight, Chairman from Action Bladder Cancer UK, added: “Bladder cancer is often given a Cinderella status. It is encouraging to see more treatment options being available to people with urothelial carcinomas and as an organisation we are thoroughly excited as to what this means for the future.”

Matt Fellows

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