15 October 2019

Another Treatment Option for Ovarian Cancer Approved for The Cancer Drugs Fund

An ovarian cancer treatment, designed to help maintain the effects of chemotherapy, has been approved by NICE for use in the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF).
Rucaparib can now be offered to women with relapsed ovarian, fallopian tube or peritoneal cancer, that has responded to platinum-based chemotherapy. Taken as a tablet, twice daily, it slows the progression of cancer by preventing cancer cells repairing so slowing down the tumour’s growth.

Around 1,350 people in England could benefit from this new treatment which will be available immediately through the CDF.

This approval is a change from the committee’s initial decision, where uncertainties in the evidence, and the price of rucaparib, meant it could not be recommended for routine use on the NHS.

Clinical trial evidence shows that rucaparib prevents cancer progression for twice as long as the placebo treatment (median of 10.8 months in the rucaparib group compared with 5.4 months in the placebo group). However, it is not known how this will translate into overall extended life expectancy due to incomplete trial data.
The drug company has since proposed an alternative price for rucaparib. If this revised commercial arrangement is supported with long-term overall survival data, rucaparib has the potential to be a cost-effective use of NHS resources. The committee therefore decided to include rucaparib in the CDF to allow this long-term data to be collected.

Meindert Boysen, director of the NICE Centre for Health Technology Evaluation, said: “Many people with advanced ovarian cancer experience recurrent disease which requires multiple rounds of chemotherapy. Rucaparib offers patients a new treatment option to help prevent cancer growth, delaying the need for further chemotherapy and the associated side-effects.

“We’re therefore pleased with the positive response from the company that has led to rucaparib being approved for use in the Cancer Drugs Fund. This will allow patients to access the treatment immediately, while more evidence can be collected on its overall survival benefit.”

John Stewart, NHS director of specialised commissioning, said: “Providing the latest cutting edge treatments for patients through innovative drug deals is just one way the NHS Long Term Plan will transform cancer care across the country.

“Thousands of patients are benefiting from earlier access to innovative treatments like rucaparib which has been made available as soon as possible through the new Cancer Drugs Fund.”

NICE has also recently recommended niraparib as a treatment for this patient group and olaparib tablets for the BRCA-positive subgroup, both for use in the CDF.