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NICE rejects cancer drug Alimta

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The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has ruled the drug Alimta should not be used on the NHS to treat locally advanced or metastatic nonsmall-cell lung cancer.

The panel stood by its draft guidance for England and Wales on the drug, generic name pemetrexed, despite an appeal from the manufacturer, Eli Lilly.

NICE chief executive Andrew Dillon said: “The independent appraisal committee was not persuaded that the evidence presented provided a robust demonstration of the clinical and cost-effectiveness of pemetrexed compared with either docetaxel (Taxotere) or best supportive care, and therefore concluded that the drug is not an effective use of NHS resources.”

A statement from Eli Lilly said: “The clinical trial data for Alimta in second-line nonsmall-cell lung cancer that supported this NICE appraisal demonstrated that Alimta had comparable efficacy to the current standard of care (docetaxel).

“While the committee noted that Alimta was associated with fewer life-threatening and severe haematological toxicities and hospitalisations, there was however no difference between treatments in terms of symptom control, and they therefore questioned whether the use of Alimta would improve quality of life despite the improved toxicity profile.

“As such we are extremely disappointed with these conclusions as additional costs (over the current standard of care), related to the provision of Alimta for the treatment of non-small-cell lung cancer, and the associated reduction in incidence of life threatening toxicities, are around £500 per month for three or four months.”

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