Another new life-extending treatment for some people with lung cancer is to be made available on the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) following its approval by NICE in draft guidance published on August 8, 2019.
Immunotherapy drug pembrolizumab (also known as Keytruda) used with chemotherapy drugs carboplatin and paclitaxel will now be an option for adults with squamous non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) which has spread to other parts of the body and who haven't had any previous treatments.
Evidence from an ongoing clinical trial suggests that people who have pembrolizumab combination therapy could live longer than those who have standard chemotherapy. It also suggests people could have additional time without their cancer progressing compared with standard chemotherapy.
However, because the clinical evidence is immature, the cost-effectiveness estimates for pembrolizumab combination therapy are very uncertain. The committee recognized that it has the potential to be cost-effective, and therefore recommended it for use on the CDF. This will allow more evidence to be collected to address the uncertainties around overall survival.
Around 7,500 people in England are diagnosed each year with this type of lung cancer, of whom approximately 1,700 may be eligible for pembrolizumab combination therapy.
Pembrolizumab is given every three weeks by intravenous infusion. The 200 mg infusion has a list price of £5,260, but the company has offered the NHS a confidential discount.
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