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Erlotinib reprieved for use by NHS


Roche has overcome objections by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) over the supply of the cancer drug erlotinib to the NHS.

NICE had ruled against the drug, but changed its mind after Roche offered to discount it to the same price as docetaxel, a similar alternative supplied to the NHS.

Erlotinib is an epidermal growth factor receptor inhibitor, and both drugs are second-line treatment for patients with nonsmall-cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

NICE had ruled that although erlotinib reduced risk of toxicities such as febrile neutropenia, this was not enough to consider it cost-effective compared with docetaxel.

But after Roche proposed to equalise costs between the two, a NICE committee recommended approval for patients as an alternative second-line treatment.

A special report in The Lancet Oncology published online comments on the evidence considered during this final approval process.

It says: “The recommendation was made on the condition that the manufacturer provides erlotinib at an overall treatment cost (including administration, adverse events, and monitoring costs) equal to that of docetaxel.”

This is the latest example of NICE and manufacturers collaborating to reduce drug costs within the NHS.

Copyright Press Association 2008

The Lancet Oncology

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