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NICE set to reject Merck’s Erbitux for head and neck cancer

Draft guidance rules the treatment does not provide value for money
Merck

NICE is poised not to back Merck KGaA's Erbitux (cetuximab) for the treatment of recurrent and/or metastatic squamous cell cancer of the head and neck on the NHS.

In draft guidance, the UK cost-effectiveness regulator said that the drug does not represent value for money and expressed concern over 'significant uncertainties' in the evidence provided.

Erbitux was first rejected by NICE for head and neck cancer in 2009 but is undergoing reappraisal as part of the watchdog's programme to assess all drugs that are currently available on the Cancer Drugs Fund.

Merck has since provided further evidence for Erbitux to assist this appraisal process, reducing the indication to patients with mouth cancer alone as well as proposing an additional, undisclosed discount.

However, the committee said that the new evidence does not adequately clarify why Erbitux should be more effective in mouth cancer patients than head and neck cancer patients.

Professor Carole Longson, director of the health technology evaluation centre at NICE, said: “This decision not to recommend cetuximab as an option for treating mouth cancer will be disappointing for some patients.

“However, we need to make sure the NHS makes the most of its resources by only funding treatments that are both clinically effective and represent good value for money.”

Erbitux is still available to patients on the previous Cancer Drugs Fund programme, and will continue to be until final draft guidance is published.

Article by
Rebecca Clifford

2nd November 2016

From: Regulatory

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