The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), the health technology assessment body, has issued positive opinions on two bowel cancer drugs, cetuximab and panitumumab, that were previously available through the cancer drugs fund (CDF).
The decision means that the NHS must make funding available for both treatments for routine use within three months, once the final guidance is published.
Under the guidance, both drugs can be used first-line in combination with FOLFOX or FOLFIRI chemotherapy for patients with wild-type RAS metastatic colorectal cancer. The decision expands the indication for cetuximab under NICE’s technology appraisal, which previously extended only to liver metastases specifically. Panitumumab has not previously been appraised by NICE.
The drugs will be available through a patient access scheme at an undisclosed discount to the NHS.
NICE also says that these approvals mark the halfway point in the CDF reappraisal process, which began when the revamped version of the CDF was launched in July 2016. NICE can now either recommend cancer drugs for routine commissioning on the NHS, recommend them for CDF use, or not recommend them at all. It is reappraising 24 drugs across 33 indications and so far 14 drugs for 18 indications have been moved from the old CDF into routine NHS use.
Source: Courtesy: NICE
NICE says that the reappraisal process has led to pharmaceutical companies reviewing and reducing their drug prices, as well as several providing additional evidence.
“The system is working well,” says NICE chief executive Sir Andrew Dillon. “Companies are cooperating well with our reviews and the good news for patients is that more cancer drugs than ever are being recommended for routine use.”
Cetuximab, which is marketed as Erbitux by Merck, was deemed not cost-effective for use in squamous cell head and neck cancer by NICE in November 2016. Panitumumab is marketed as Vectibix by Amgen.