NICE recommends funding for three thyroid cancer drugs


NICE has recommended in draft guidance that three thyroid cancer treatments can receive regular NHS funding, finally approving a drug from Eisai after a delay of more than two years because it fell through several gaps in the body’s review process.

All the drugs got through NICE after the manufacturers offered commercially confidential discounts.

Eisai’s Lenvima (lenvatinib) was refused entry into the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) in 2016, because the scheme to provide interim funding for oncology drugs that cannot be funded regularly on the NHS was closed to new entries at the time.

Lenvima was also not scheduled for assessment by NICE because of its low budget impact, and as a result NICE delayed its review of the drug’s cost-effectiveness.

[caption id="attachment_16760" align="alignnone" width="135"] Eisai's Gary Hendler[/caption]

Gary Hendler, chairman & CEO EMEA, and chief commercial officer, Oncology Business Group at Eisai, said: “After almost three years of being licensed in the EU, I am really very pleased that NICE is finally recommending the use of lenvatinib so that patients with this form of thyroid cancer will at last have access to it in England. While patients in Scotland and Wales had access to lenvatinib much sooner - 2016 and 2017 respectively - it’s a real shame that due to a poor process that patients in England have had to wait much longer."

NICE has said that two other drugs previously funded by the CDF under previous arrangements can now receive regular funding on the NHS.

It said that Ipsen’s Cometriq (cabozantinib), and Bayer’s Nexavar (sorafenib) can be made available through usual arrangements after being reimbursed by the CDF.

Around 1,300 people could benefit from these treatment over the next five years, NICE said.

NICE made the decision in two separate appraisals – in one it said Cometriq  is recommended as an option for treating medullary thyroid cancer that cannot be operated on or has spread around the body. This is a rare type of thyroid cancer, affecting only 80 people in England each year.

In a separate appraisal NICE said Lenvima and Nexavar are recommended for cancers that have continued to grow or spread around after surgery and radioactive iodine therapy – a kind of cancer affecting around 200 people each year.

Mirella Marlow, acting director of the NICE centre for health technology evaluation, said: “Treatment options for these types of thyroid cancer are limited, so it is important that we are able to give patients much needed access to alternatives to best supportive care at this stage of their disease. These drugs will give patients extra time, as well as improving their quality of life.”

In Scotland, all the drugs have already been funded by the NHS under devolved decision making by the Scottish Medicines Consortium.