National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE)
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New treatment recommended for kidney cancer

People with kidney cancer set to benefit from a new innovative immunotherapy, after NICE says it should be available on the NHS.

NICE recommends nivolumab for people with advanced renal cell cancer (RCC) – a type of kidney cancer.

Nivolumab is a form of immunotherapy, a treatment that has been hailed as a an innovative way to battle cancer – it works by harnessing the power of the patient’s own immune system to destroy their cancer cells

In July 2016 the NICE appraisal committee found the trial data on nivolumab for kidney cancer was immature, which meant the long-term survival was uncertain. Therefore, it could not be recommended for routine NHS use.

In response the company adjusted their cost-analysis and proposed a new simple discount patient access scheme for nivolumab. They also provided data from recently published phase I and phase II trials, which included longer-term follow-up data on mortality.

Professor Carole Longson, director of the health technology evaluation centre at NICE said: “Some have hailed nivolumab as a “break-through” cancer treatment. But we have to remain objective and be sure that our assessment of a drug’s clinical and cost effectiveness is separate from the headlines.

“Our assessment of nivolumab as a treatment for advanced renal cell cancer has shown it could extend survival, and that is a good use of NHS resources.

There were 8,505 people with kidney cancer in England in 2013. Between 2005 and 2013, this rose by 6%. Following this trend would mean more than 10,000 people could have kidney cancer this year.

Professor Longson added: “People diagnosed with advanced cancer can feel their treatment choices are limited. As such, I am glad we have been able to recommend nivolumab, making this a potential option for them.”


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