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Merck scores expanded NICE recommendation in head, neck and oral cancer

Published on 08/08/17 at 10:22am

Merck has announced its approval of NICE’s decision to expand its recommendation of Erbitux (cetuximab) to include its use as a first-line treatment for recurrent or metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN) of the oral cavity, when used in combination with platinum-based chemotherapy.

The institute had already recommended the drug in combination with radiotherapy for the treatment of SCCHN in patients who had a Karnofsky performance status of more than 90% and for whom platinum-based chemotherapy is contraindicated. The 0-100 scale provides a quantification of general well-being in cancer patients, with 100 representing ‘perfect’ health.

The drug was also recommended back in March this year in combination with platinum-based chemotherapy for the first-line treatment of RAS wild-type metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC)

This new decision by NICE extends this recommendation beyond the locally advanced setting, and ensures that those affected in the oral cavity will have sustained access to a targeted treatment option.

 “We are delighted that patients with recurrent and/or metastatic head and neck cancer in the oral cavity will continue to have access to Erbitux and that NICE has recognised the survival benefit it can offer to patients with this disease,” Dr Belinda Byrne, Medical Director at Merck, UK said. “Merck has worked tirelessly with NICE throughout this review and its success illustrates our commitment to working in partnership with the National Healthcare Service and NICE.”

Matt Fellows

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