Over a thousand patients with lung cancer will benefit from taking Nivolumab, a life-extending drug.

The drug is a form of immunotherapy which works by preventing cancer-fighting immune system cells from being switched off.

Carole Longson, director of the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), announced the approval of the drug in a statement, saying: “We know that nivolumab is clinically effective for some people with lung cancer but the full extent of its benefit is not clear.

“This new deal means that we can give patients access to what we know is a promising treatment whilst more evidence is gathered on its value.”

Nivolumab typically costs £5,268 a month and is given intravenously in the hospital every two weeks.

 

 

Paul Workman, chief executive of the Institute of Cancer Research, said: “I’m pleased to see NICE and the drug’s manufacturer showing flexibility in reaching agreement on the drug’s approval.

“But this is another instance where patients in the UK have had to wait far longer than necessary to access an innovative new treatment. Initially the drug was priced far too high to ever have been judged cost-effective by NICE.

“Companies need to come to the table with their best, most realistic price offer right at the start, so we get new exciting drugs, such as immunotherapies, to patients as quickly as possible.

“Immunotherapies are currently very expensive, but one of the ways to make them more cost-effective is to direct them to patients most likely to respond. Today’s decision is a welcome step in the right direction in its requirement for use of the PD-L1 biomarker for some patients.”



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