Research and Technology

26.07.19

NICE approves gynaecological cancer treatment on Cancer Drugs Fund

NICE has approved the use of a medicine, previously used at a later stage in the treatment of advanced ovarian cancer, much earlier in the treatment pathway.

Adult patients with advanced high-grade epithelial ovarian, fallopian tube or primary peritoneal cancer that has responded to first-line, platinum-based chemotherapy can now be offered the drug olaparib (commercially called Lynparza), NICE has said in draft final guidance published 26 July.

Patients must have be BRCA mutation positive to be eligible to receive the new treatment.

The medicine, a tablet taken twice a day, will be paid for through the Cancer Drugs Fund only if the conditions of the managed access agreement between the company and NHS England and NHS Improvement for olaparib are followed.

Around 700 patients a year are expected to benefit from this decision.

The use of the Cancer Drugs Fund is needed while further data is collected from an ongoing clinical trial, which so far estimates that olaparib delays disease progression by around three years, compared with the placebo.

Olaparib is a type of drug called a PARP inhibitor and works by preventing the PARP protein in cancer cells from repairing damaged DNA, causing the cancer cells to die.

READ MORE: NICE approves breast cancer drug combination on Cancer Drugs Fund

Meindert Boysen, director of the NICE Centre for Health Technology Evaluation, said: “The availability of olaparib tablets as maintenance therapy is an important development in the management of BRCA mutation-positive advanced ovarian cancer.

“Olaparib is already used for ovarian cancer but is expected to have the greatest benefit when used early, and is considered to have the potential to cure the disease in some people if given before the first recurrence.

“We are pleased that the company has agreed a commercial arrangement for olaparib that will allow it to be made available immediately to people who currently have an unmet need for maintenance treatment.”

John Stewart, NHS director of specialised commissioning, added: “Olaparib has the potential to make a huge impact on the treatment of advanced ovarian cancer, giving patients a better chance of survival.”

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