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A new treatment for lung cancer has been approved by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), making it available for patients on the NHS in England.
Durvalumab can be prescribed immediately to patients with locally advanced unresectable non-small-cell lung cancer if they have already had platinum-based chemoradiation.
It works by helping the immune system to find cancer cells that have been disguised by the PD-L1 protein and attacks them.
Clinical trials for the drug saw those taking it live for two years without any progression in the cancer, compared to just six months drug-free.
It’s likely that between 27 per cent and 40 per cent of people put on durvalumab could see no progression in their lung cancer for five years, according to experts.
NICE has recommended durvalumab to be prescribed through the Cancer Drugs Fund, while more data on its potential as a treatment is collected.
Dr Fiona McDonald, a consultant clinical oncologist at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This decision marks the biggest advance we’ve seen for a number of years in treating locally advanced non-small cell lung cancer.
“For our patients it’s fantastic news; I expect to see an immediate impact on clinical practice, and for this treatment to become the standard of care for eligible patients.”
Patients being treated with durvalumab have it administered via an intravenous drip every two week for up to 12 months.
AstraZeneca, which makes the drug, will provide it to the NHS at a confidential discounted price and the NICE committee that reviewed it concluded it would be a cost-effective treatment.
Written by James Puckle
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