“NICE recommends that nivolumab (also called Opdivo, and manufactured by Bristol Myers Squibb) is made available on the NHS as a treatment option for patients with advanced (unresectable or metastatic) melanoma.
“The independent Committee decided that a consultation on the draft recommendations was not needed for this appraisal, so the recommendations could go straight to a final appraisal determination (FAD). This happens when the Committee recommends a treatment in line with its licence.
“Professor Carole Longson, Health Technology Evaluation Centre Director said: ‘We are pleased to be able to recommend nivolumab for treating advanced skin cancer in final draft guidance. In 2011, over 13,000 people were diagnosed with melanoma in the UK, and it accounts for more deaths than all other skin cancers combined. I am sure this will be welcome news to patients and healthcare professionals alike.’ ”
“NICE is planning to bar patients with a particular form of lung cancer from access to Bristol-Myers Squibb’s ground-breaking immunotherapy Opdivo on the NHS in England and Wales.
“Opdivo (nivolumab) is the first in a new class of medicines, called PD-1 immune checkpoint inhibitors, to be licensed for use in squamous pre-treated lung cancer patients, and is currently available in the UK to some patients through the Early Access to Medicines Scheme.”
“Pembrolizumab is a treatment for advanced skin cancer and is the first medicine to be approved through the Early Access to Medicines scheme (EAMS), launched in England last April.
“The idea is to get pioneering drugs to severely ill patients much sooner.
“Drugs signed off through EAMS have been scrutinised by regulators, weighing the risks and benefits.
“A green light by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) means doctors anywhere in the UK can prescribe the drug in question before normal licensing procedures – which can take years – are complete.”
“It is looking likely that patients with prostate cancer will, in certain circumstances, get ‘routine’ access to treatment with Bayer’s Xofigo (radium 223) on the National Health Service in England and Wales.
“The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has published draft guideline’s endorsing the drug as an option to treat adults with hormone-relapsed prostate cancer, symptomatic bone metastases and no known visceral metastases.
“But this only extends to patients who have already been treated with docetaxel, and the recommendation is contingent upon on Bayer providing the drug with a confidential discount agreed in a patient access scheme.
“Xofigo is a radio-pharmaceutical agent designed to directly deliver alpha radiation to bone metastases without affecting normal bone marrow. Bayer estimates the average cost for a six-month course with the drug (administered intravenously every four weeks) to be around £24,240.”
“Experts say that cancer patients are being failed as new figures show waiting time targets for treatment have been missed for the third consecutive quarter.
“The figures show that between July and September this year more than five thousand cancer patients have waited more than 62 days for treatment.
“The ’62-day-wait’ target was introduced to set a cap on the time between GP referral and the start of treatment for cancer patients.
“The target in England is for 85 per cent of patients to start their treatment within 62 days of their urgent referral.
“But today’s figures from NHS England show that for the last quarter only 83.5 per cent of patients began treatment within this window. This follows a worrying downward trend from 84.4 per cent and 84.1 per cent in the previous two quarters.
“Since the third quarter of last year (October – December 2013) there has been a 2.3 per cent fall in patients being treated within the two month target.
“Sarah Woolnough, Cancer Research UK’s executive director of policy and information, said: ‘This isn’t just about missed targets – consecutive breaches mean thousands of patients are being failed.’ “