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Roche and Janssen cancer drugs win NICE backing

Zytiga and Tarceva approved for NHS use after uneasy review period

Roche Tarceva erlotinib cancer drug

The UK's National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has issued final guidance recommending the use of cancer drugs from Janssen and Roche on the NHS after an uneasy review period.

The cost-effectiveness body backed Janssen's Zytiga (abiraterone) in combination with prednisone or prednisolone to treat castration-resistant metastatic prostate cancer that has progressed on or after one docetaxel-containing therapy.

Meanwhile, Roche's Tarceva (erlotinib) is recommended to treat patients with locally advanced or metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) that have tested positive for the EGFR mutation.

“NICE recommends more than 80 per cent of the drugs it appraises and we are very pleased to be able to add these two treatments to the list of options available to patients,” said Professor Carole Longson, director of the centre for health technology evaluation at NICE. 

The Zytiga recommendation comes after Janssen revised its patient access scheme following initial draft guidance from NICE that said the drug was not a cost-effective option.

Janssen also presented the watchdog with further information on which patients with prostate cancer would benefit the most, and clarified how many patients could receive the drug.

“These factors enabled the committee to revise its preliminary views and recommend the drug for use on the NHS,” said Prof Longson.

The decision gives patients with advanced prostate cancer patients another option at a stage where few other treatments are recommended.

Janssen UK's external affairs director Martin Price said: “After the initial rejection Janssen has gone to significant lengths to find a solution that allows eligible patients to be treated with this innovative, UK discovered medicine, routinely on the NHS.

"We now look forward to working with the NHS over the coming months to make the transition to the new arrangements as smooth as possible” 

Roche's Tarceva also faced reservations from NICE during the review process, with the body requesting in February that Roche provide further information concerning the drug's use in its NSCLC indication.

Now that it has satisfied NICE's request, Roche's Tarceva will be able to compete more directly with AstraZeneca's Iressa (gefitinib) in England.

“We are pleased to be able to recommend another treatment option for this stage of the disease,” said Prof Longson.

According to Roche, 11 per cent of patients in the UK with NSCLC have the EGFR mutation, which both Tarceva and Iressa target.

27th June 2012

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