NICE turns down Shire’s pancreatic cancer treatment
NICE has announced its intention not to recommend the NHS use of Shire’s Onivyde (pegylated liposomal irinotecan) for the treatment of metastatic pancreatic cancer that has progressed following gemcitabine-based therapy.
The committee came to the decision based on evidence for the use of the drug in combination with 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), a chemotherapy drug, and leucovorin (LV), which improves the effect of 5-FU. Onivyde consists of fat particles to which the anticancer treatment irinotecan has been added, meaning that the drug can travel into a tumour and slowly inhibit its ability to grow, eventually leading to its death.
The combination of Onivyde, 5-FU and LV has shown to generate an overall median survival rate of 6.1 months compared to the 4.2 months provided by 5-FU and LV alone. However, NICE judged that, when compared to the clinical standard of oxaliplatin plus 5-FU and LV, Onivyde did not present any significant benefits. With this comparison in mind, the committee could not deem the treatment a cost-effective use of NHS resources, despite the uncertainty of the evidence available.
Pancreatic cancer is an aggressive form of the disease affecting up to 10,000 new patients a year in the UK, with only 3% of sufferers surviving for more than five years. This decision leaves patients with limited options to treat the illness; today, survival rates are often less than six months.
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