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NICE recommends thyroid cancer drug trio for NHS use

Published on 20/02/18 at 12:26pm

NICE has announced its decision to recommend that three separate treatments for thyroid cancer should be made available for use of the NHS: Ipsen’s Cometriq (cabozantinib), Bayer’s Nexavar (sorafenib), and Eisai’s Lenvima (lenvatinib). The former two were previously only available via the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF), and the latter sees approval after delays of more than two years.  

Eisai’s tyrosine kinase inhibitor was knocked back for review by the UK watchdog due to its low budget impact, and was denied listing on the CDF because the interim funding initiative was not accepting new entries at the time. The final appraisal decision covered Lenvima in the treatment of progressive, locally advanced or metastatic, differentiated (papillary/follicular/Hürthle cell) thyroid carcinoma, refractory to radioactive iodine (RAI-R DTC).

“After almost three years of being licensed in the EU, I am really very pleased that NICE is finally recommending the use of lenvatinib so that patients with this form of thyroid cancer will at last have access to it in England,” commented Eisai’s Gary Hendler, Chairman, CEO EMEA, and COO, Oncology Business Group. “While patients in Scotland and Wales had access to lenvatinib much sooner – 2016 and 2017 respectively – it’s a real shame that due to a poor process that patients in England have had to wait much longer.”

Ipsen’s Cometriq was recommended for routine NHS use in the treatment of progressive medullary thyroid cancer in adult patients with unresectable, locally advanced or metastatic disease.

“Patients with medullary thyroid cancer typically have a poor prognosis and currently have limited treatment options available,” said Ewan McDowall, General Manager of Ipsen UK & Ireland “We are therefore delighted that NICE has approved Cometriq for use via the NHS for eligible patients in England after previously being available via the Cancer Drugs Fund. We believe that any medicine that has the potential to improve the life of a patient with cancer, should be treated as an absolute priority, regardless of whether it is a rare cancer that affects only a few or one that affects many. We are grateful for the opportunity to work collaboratively with health authorities including NICE, as we recognise resources are finite, yet often patients do not have time to wait.”

Finally, Bayer’s Nexavar also made the grade, recommended to come into routine use from the CDF where it was available for the treatment of progressive, locally advanced or metastatic differentiated thyroid cancer in adults whose disease does not respond to radioactive iodine (RAI).

Amanda Cunnington, Head of Patient Access at Bayer UK, remarked: “Sorafenib, funded through the Cancer Drugs Fund, has been the only option for advanced thyroid 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 this important treatment option like those currently living in Scotland and Wales.”

The decisions on all three drugs were after the organisation agreed confidential discounts with the manufacturers in order to make them cost-effective for NHS use.

NICE estimated that around 1,300 people could benefit over the next five years from Ipsen and Bayer’s drugs being moved to routine use form the CDF. Mirella Marlow, Acting Director of the NICE Centre for Health Technology Evaluation, commented: “Treatment options for these types of thyroid cancer are limited, so it is important that we are able to give patients much-needed access to alternatives to best supportive care at this stage of their disease. These drugs will give patients extra time, as well as improving their quality of life.”

Matt Fellows

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