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ICR reacts to decision to make the immunotherapy nivolumab available on the Cancer Drugs Fund for non-small cell lung cancers

Non-small cell lung cancer (photo Dr Ed Uthman/Yale Rosen/Flickr)

The Institute of Cancer Research, London, today responds to the announcement by NICE that the immunotherapy nivolumab (Opdivo) will now be made available on the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) for treating locally advanced or metastatic squamous and non-squamous non-small-cell lung cancers (NSCLC) after prior chemotherapy.

For adults with non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer, the treatment will only be available for people whose tumours express a molecule called PD-L1, which is used by cancers to subvert the immune system.

Professor Paul Workman, Chief Executive of the ICR, said:

“It’s great news that people in the UK with non-small cell lung cancer will now gain more time with their loved ones after being granted access via the Cancer Drugs Fund to the pioneering immunotherapy nivolumab. 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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