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Cancer Drugs Fund to offer MSD's Keytruda for lung cancer

Published on 22/11/18 at 11:32am

MSD’s Keytruda (pembrolizumab) will now be made available via the Cancer Drugs Fund for patients in England, as NICE announces it has agreed to recommend the drug in treatment-naive non-small-cell lung cancer, whose tumours have no epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)- or anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK)-positive mutations.

The submission of evidence to support the drug’s benefits drove the decision, showing that Keytruda improvised progression-free survival by around four months compared to standard of care pemetrexed with platinum chemotherapy, allowing NICE to determine that it would be a cost-effective use of resources.

However, NICE said that further data would be necessary to determine whether the drug was cost-effective enough to be used routinely on the NHS. MSD will continue to gather efficacy data for Keytruda until June 2019, under a CDF managed access agreement, at which time the case will be reviewed again.

The organisation’s estimations suggest that around 3,000 patients will be eligible to receive the therapy.

“This decision is good news for people affected by this type of lung cancer. This drug combination has shown significant benefits for some patients in clinical trials, helping them to survive their cancer for longer,” explained Professor Charles Swanton, Cancer Research UK’s Chief Clinician. “This also shows the value of the Cancer Drugs Fund, which gives NICE the option to approve promising treatments while more data is collected on their long-term benefits. Lung cancer is the biggest cancer killer in the UK so it’s vital that innovations like this reach patients as quickly as possible.”

Meindert Boysen, Director of the NICE Centre for Health Technology Evaluation, also added: "Over the past two decades there have been few improvements for people with this type of lung cancer so we are pleased to support access to this new option via the Cancer Drugs Fund, and keen to see further data on its effectiveness as it becomes available.

"NICE recommends that this treatment is given for a maximum of two years, because it is thought that patients do not need to continue treatment beyond this point to achieve the benefits. NICE will consider this point when we review the additional evidence."

Matt Fellows

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