NICE says no to Yervoy as first line treatment

Skin cancer treatment Yervoy has been rejected as a first line treatment, NICE saying the drug’s ability to extend lives compared to current treatments has not been proved.

Yervoy was launched in Europe in 2011, and has widely been hailed as a breakthrough in one of the hardest cancers to treat.

NICE recommended the drug in November 2012 as a second line treatment in advanced melanoma patients, but only after agreeing a discount with Bristol-Myers Squibb via a patient access scheme.

Now NICE has looked at Yervoy as a first-line treatment in patients with advanced malignant melanoma which is either unresectable or metastatic, but says the data supporting its use is not strong enough.

Sir Andrew Dillon, NICE Chief Executive, said: “There are limited first-line treatment options available for patients with this type of advanced skin cancer. Which is why it is disappointing that the evidence put forward by the company did not conclusively demonstrate the degree to which the regulator approved dose of ipilimumab can extend life when compared with current standard care in the NHS.

Sir Andrew said ongoing clinical trials could help prove the drug’s value in this setting, and said NICE was keen to see the recruitment and continued follow up of patients in these trials encouraged.

Cancer Drug Fund set for approval

However, despite NICE’s initial rejection of the drug, eligible patients in England are likely to receive first line treatment with Yervoy, thanks to the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF).

Earlier this month the CDF committee recommended funding first line treatment, as long as BMS agreed to carry over its existing discounted cost for second line use. NHS England must first agree this with the company and approve the proposal before patients can receive the treatment.


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