NICE Rejects RoActemra for Rheumatoid Arthritis on the NHS
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has issued preliminary guidance rejecting the use of RoActemra (tocilizumab) on the NHS to treat rheumatoid arthritis.
The drug, which is produced by Chugai Pharma and distributed by Roche, has demonstrated its potential benefits to patients in clinical trials. In studies including 4,000 patients, RoActemra, alone or in combination with a disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug (DMARD), such as methotrexate, significantly reduced the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis compared to DMARDs alone, regardless of previous therapies and the severity of the disease.
However, NICE has concluded that the drug is not cost-effective, costing £9,295 a year for a patient weighing around 70kg.
The National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society said the guidance means that sufferers’ only options now will be to retry therapies that have already failed or palliative care, which involves large doses of steroids which could cause side effects such as osteoporosis in the longer term.
NICE’s final guidance is due to be issued in February 2010.
NICE Approves Hycamtin for Small Cell Lung Cancer
NICE has approved Hycamtin (topotecan) for patients with small cell lung cancer on the NHS, under certain conditions.
The regulator’s Final Appraisal Determination recommends the use of the drug in patients suffering from a relapse of the disease, but only when treatment with the first-line therapy again is not appropriate, or the combination of cyclophosphamide, vincristine and doxorubicin chemotherapies is contraindicated.
In addition, the oral form of GlaxoSmithKline’s Hycamtin should be used, as the intravenous version is considered too expensive. The cost per cycle for the oral form of Hycamtin is £638, which is equal to an average cost per patient of £2,552, whereas the cost for the intravenous version is £1,495 and £5,980, respectively.
Lung cancer is one of the most common cancers in England, with over 33,000 new cases in England and Wales a year, of which between 10% and 20% are of the small cell type.
In September 2009, Hycamtin was approved by NICE to treat cervical cancer on the NHS (See NICE Approves NHS Use of Hycamtin for Cervical Cancer).
Further reading - A detailed review of the UK pharmaceutical market, including more information on NICE and its appraisal procedures, is available from Espicom: The Pharmaceutical Market: United Kingdom (published September 2009)