The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommended Alimta (pemetrexed) for use in patients with non-small cell lung cancer in August 2009.
Eli Lilly’s Alimta can be used in combination with cisplatin on the NHS as a first-line treatment of locally advanced or metastatic NSCLC if the tumour has been confirmed as adenocarcinoma or large-cell carcinoma. In total, around 80% of lung cancers are the NSCLC type, and these are made up of squamous cell carcinoma (45%), adenocarcinoma (45%) and large cell carcinoma (10%).
Currently, the NHS treatment for NSCLC is Eli Lilly’s chemotherapy Gemzar (gemcitabine), which holds an 85% market share, followed by vinorelbine with an 11% market share.
NICE originally rejected Alimta in 2007, on the grounds that there was no evidence that the drug was more clinically or cost-effective than the other treatments already available.
Further reading - A detailed analysis of the UK pharmaceutical market, including some background information on NICE, is available from Espicom: The Pharmaceutical Market: United Kingdom (published June 2009)