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New lung cancer drug available on NHS

Thursday 18th April 2019
NICE has approved a new treatment that assists the body in fighting against cancer by helping the immune system identify harmful cells.
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The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has recommended that durvalumab, a new drug, be available to treat certain types of cancer. It will now be made available for NHS patients in England through the Cancer Drugs Fund, with the potential that its use could be expanded in years to come following further research.

Durvalumab is a type of drug known as a PD-L1 inhibitor. This refers to the PD-L1 protein, which suppresses the immune system and in particular helps disguise the presence of cancer cells in the body. Durvalumab prevents this protein from being produced, helping the immune system to track down and attack cancerous cells.

The drug will be available to patients, but only those suffering from locally advanced, unresectable, non-small-cell lung cancer who have already gone through platinum-based chemoradiation.

This is due to the results of a long-term clinical trial, in which participants taking the drug went for an average of roughly two years without their cancer progressing. The average for those going without durvalumab was just six months before the cancer developed further.

As a result of this, it is believed that between 27 per cent and 40 per cent of patients taking the drug will last for at least five years without their cancer progressing. However, the clinical trial did not determine whether or not durvalumab would be cost-effective for the NHS to use, which is why it is only available through the Cancer Drugs Fund until more research is conducted.

Meindert Boysen, director of the Centre for Health Technology Evaluation at NICE, said: “We are pleased to make this exciting new option available and look forward to seeing further data on the effectiveness of durvalumab.

“After relatively few developments in the past two decades for people with this type of lung cancer, this decision will be particularly welcome to those with the condition, their families and the healthcare staff and experts working with them.

Image by Darko Stojanovic from PixabayADNFCR-1780-ID-801850064-ADNFCR

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