“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Centre Director said: ‘We are pleased to be able to recommend nivolumab for treating advanced skin cancer in final draft guidance.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.’ ”
“An online computer programme that helps to predict the most suitable treatment for breast cancer has been found to underestimate the number of women under 40 who will die from the disease by 25 per cent, according to a study published in the British Journal of Cancer today.
“Researchers carried out an evaluation of the PREDICT computer programme which was developed after studying thousands of UK women of all ages with breast cancer.
“The programme itself has been well validated as a predictor of prognosis. However its accuracy among young women – who represent less than five percent of all breast cancer cases in the UK – might be affected by the fact that data from only a small number of young women were included when the programme was developed, and this could be making its five-year predictions for patients in this age group less accurate. The disease can behave differently in younger women compared with older patients and can sometimes be more aggressive.
“Researchers from Southampton and Cambridge, supported by Cancer Research UK and University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, looked at how accurately the PREDICT online programme estimates the number of deaths in patients diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 41.”
“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.”
“Just a week after the controversy over breast cancer drug Kadcyla, the inflexibilities within the UK’s disparate drug approval systems have been pulled into sharp focus once again.
“NICE – the organisation that tells the English and Welsh NHS which drugs it should pay for – has said that the health service should not routinely give prostate cancer drug abiraterone (aka Zytiga), to men whose disease has stopped responding to hormone treatment, before they’ve had a course of chemotherapy.
“The drug was approved for use after chemo in 2011. Today’s decision prevents its routine use earlier in men’s treatment.
“The reasons for this decision are complex, and relate to the drug’s cost, and a disagreement over whether using it before chemotherapy constitutes an ‘End of Life’ treatment (and thus able to be considered under a more flexible set of criteria) – we’ll explore these below in more detail.”
“The breast cancer drug trastuzumab emtansine (also known as Kadcyla) will not be made routinely available on the NHS following a failure to reach an agreement on price between the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and the drug’s manufacturer, Roche.
“NICE criticised the pharmaceutical company over a failure to make the drug more affordable, stating that the high price of Kadcyla makes it ‘impossible’ to recommend for widespread use in the NHS.
“The drug is licensed to treat breast cancer patients with a form of the disease known as HER2-positive breast cancer, after it has spread to other parts of the body.”
“People with advanced skin cancer should be able to receive ipilimumab as a first treatment, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) proposes.
“In final draft guidance, NICE recommends that the drug ipilimumab (also called Yervoy and manufactured by Bristol-Myers Squibb Pharmaceuticals Limited) is made available on the NHS as a first-line treatment for patients with advanced malignant melanoma which is either unresectable (when the full tumour cannot be removed) or metastatic (the cancer has spread to other parts of the body).
“Sir Andrew Dillon, NICE chief executive, said: ‘We already recommend ipilimumab as a second-line treatment and so we are pleased to be able to propose extending that recommendation to first line treatment too.’ “
Editor’s note: The UK’s public healthcare system is required to provide funding for treatments recommended by NICE. To learn more about targeted melanoma drugs like ipilimumab, read The Basics.