NICE Recommends Pembrolizumab for Advanced Lung Cancer Following Additional Price Cut

NICE recommends pembrolizumab for use in advanced lung cancer following additional data review and a further discount in price.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), which advises the UK’s National Health Services (NHS) on coverage policies, has approved the use of Merck’s programmed death-1 inhibitor pembrolizumab (Keytruda) for use in adults with advanced lung cancer whose tumors express the programmed death ligand-1 protein.

In a previous version of the guidance released in October this year, NICE had rejected the use of pembrolizumab, citing lack of robust information on the long-term benefits of the treatment. With the data that was available to the appraisal committee at that time, the drug was thought of as not being cost-effective for NHS. Subsequently, additional data presented by Merck to the committee, coupled with a further discount in the price, helped sway the decision in the drug’s favor.

Carole Longson, who heads the NICE Centre for Health Technology Evaluation, said, “If companies work with us to price drugs reasonably and manage any uncertainties in the evidence base, we can continue to recommend patients have routine access to the treatments they need.”

The current guidance states that patients will remain on the drug for 2 years and will stop subsequent treatment if their disease has not progressed.

Meanwhile, a competitor product by Bristol-Myers Squibb, nivolumab (Opdivo), remains off the NICE formulary for treatment of advanced lung cancer due to cost concerns.