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PharmaMar to pay top-up for trabectedin

NICE has recommended Yondelis (trabectedin) for advanced soft tissue sarcoma after PharmaMar agreed to pay for a fifth dose, if necessary

Yondelis (trabectedin) has been recommended by the UK's National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) as a treatment option on the NHS for advanced soft tissue sarcoma after PharmaMar have agreed to pay for treatment with a fifth dose if deemed necessary.

Earlier this year NiCE issued draft guidance turning the drug down because of its high cost but the manufacturer, PharmaMar, has now agreed to pay for extra treatments.

NICE has recommended its use where other treatments have failed, or cannot be tolerated because of side effects. Similar schemes, involving the manufacturer contributing to the cost of treatment, have been applied to other drugs.

The drug was approved under new rules in which greater weight is given to drugs that can extend the lives of people with rare diseases.

For the average patient each dose of the drug would cost around £3,500 and is given intravenously over 24 hours, three weeks apart. There are around 2,000 people in Britain with the cancer known as soft tissue sarcoma and about 110 patients at the advanced stages will be eligible for treatment in England and Wales.

Dr Carole Longson, health technology evaluation centre director at NICE said: "We are delighted the independent appraisal committee has been able to recommend trabectedin in its draft guidance. It has certainly not been an easy decision to make; soft tissue sarcoma is a rare cancer and the evidence was limited.

"However, treatment options for this type of cancer are limited and in the last 20 years there have been no major developments to treat the advanced stages of this disease. Being able to recommend trabectedin for use on the NHS represents a step forward in the care of this group of patients who may have very few treatment options left."

Yondelis was initially approved by the European Commission in 2007 for the treatment of soft tissue sarcoma. Since then the drughas been approved in more than 12 countries outside Europe.

PharmaMar, founded in 1986 and belonging to the Zeltia Group, is a biopharmaceutical company committed to advancing the treatment of cancer through the discovery, development, production and marketing of innovative marine-derived drugs.

21st December 2009

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