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The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has recommended the drug alectinib for use on the NHS as a treatment for an advanced form of lung cancer.
A final appraisal determination from the UK regulator has endorsed the use of alectinib - also known by its brand name Alecensa - for the treatment of anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK)-positive advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) in adult patients.
This decision was based on positive data from phase III clinical trials, which showed that the Roche-developed drug delivered average progression-free survival rates of 34.8 months - around three times greater than the 10.9-month survival rate associated with crizotinib, aka Xalkori, which is the current standard of care in NSCLC.
Moreover, alectinib was shown to reduce the likelihood of disease progression or death by 57 per cent compared to the same drug, while cutting the risk of tumours originating or metastasising in the central nervous system by 84 per cent. This is an importance advance, as the current lifetime incidence of brain metastases can be as high as 50 per cent.
Consultant medical oncologist Dr Riyaz Shah said: "This is welcome news for clinicians and patients. ALK-positive NSCLC is a rare type of lung cancer that predominantly affects younger people, non-smokers and has a propensity to spread into the brain.
"Alectinib has demonstrated substantial improvements in delaying cancer growth in these patients. It has also shown significant improvements in preventing and delaying cancer spread into the brain."
It is estimated that around 925 people in England are affected by this form of cancer. Previously, they were only able to access alectinib via the Early Access to Medicines Scheme, but the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of the therapy have now convinced NICE to make the drug available for routine access via the NHS in England and Wales.
Written by James Puckle
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