Immuno-oncology drugs: key to the Cancer Moonshot?

Given their unique characteristics and efficacy gains, it might be expected that these new cancer treatments would be receiving higher rates of positive reimbursement decisions from health technology assessment (HTA) agencies. However analysis of influential authorities around the world shows this is not always the case.

Checkpoint inhibitor immuno-oncology (I-O) treatments, the new breed of immuno-oncology therapies, work radically differently from traditional cancer therapies and are demonstrating early efficacy gains, inspiring hope in many stakeholders, especially patients. I-O drugs enable the immune system to identify and attack foreign cells, halting the spread of cancer without destroying healthy cells like traditional therapies. It is theorised that this targeted response will enable the use of I-O therapies in almost all cancer types.

Currently, four checkpoint inhibitors * (Yervoy (ipilimumab), Keytruda (pembrolizumab), Opdivo (nivolumab) and Tecentriq (atezolizumab)) have gained US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for the treatment of a wide range of cancers. Opdivo alone has regulatory approval to treat six tumour types: melanoma, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), kidney cancer, bladder cancer, and head and neck cancer.

However, despite the interest and excitement, I-O drugs have had mixed results in gaining market access globally.

In the current edition of Deep Dive: Oncology, Ashley Jaksa assesses the global challenges inhibiting market access. Read the full article here.

* Note: Due to editorial deadlines, the analysis for this article was conducted on 21 March 2017. Therefore any approvals of drugs after that date are not included. Deep Dive: Oncology was published at the beginning of May 2017.

Read Deep Dive: Oncology here.

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