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NICE gives initial ‘no’ to NHS England for kidney cancer drug

Published on 18/02/20 at 10:38am

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has not recommended Keytruda (pembrolizumab) and Inlyta (axitinib) for the treatment of advanced renal cell cancer.

Keytruda is an immunotherapy treatment that works by blocking a protein called PD-1 on the surface of certain immune cells called T cells, triggering the body’s immune system to kill cancer cells. It would be used in combination with Inlyta, which is already used to treat people with advanced kidney cancer whose cancer has continued to progress after initial treatment.

In clinical trials, the combination of the treatments improved the chance of survival compared to sunitinib, and patient feedback suggested the treatment combination may have fewer side effects than existing drugs. Patients taking the treatment had the spread of their cancer reduced for 15.1 months on average, compared with 11.1 months for those taking sunitinib. 

NICE accepted the results of the trial but did not recommend it as they said its effectiveness compared to treatment using Cabozantinib did not suggest a significant difference in delaying cancer growth or improving survival.

Rose Gray, Policy Manager at Cancer Research UK, described the decision as “disappointing”, saying: “We urge NICE, NHS England and the treatment’s manufacturer to continue to work together to agree a deal which will allow the treatment to be approved when this decision is reviewed later this year.”

Conor Kavanagh


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