NICE Approves Pembrolizumab Combination Treatment for NSCLC

Pavankumar Kamat

February 05, 2021

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has approved a potentially life-extending treatment for patients with non-squamous non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) in draft guidance published on 4 February 2021.

Pembrolizumab (Keytruda, MSD) in combination with pemetrexed and platinum chemotherapy will now be routinely available on the NHS as a first-line option for patients with non-squamous NSCLC having no growth factor receptor (EGFR)-positive or anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK)-positive mutations. The treatment was previously available to patients through the Cancer Drugs Fund.

Treatment in patients having no EGFR-positive or ALK-positive mutations was earlier guided by their PD-L1 status. With the latest approval, patients with advanced non-squamous NSCLC will be eligible to receive pembrolizumab with pemetrexed and platinum chemotherapy for up to two years, irrespective of their PD-L1 status.

The decision is based on clinical trial evidence suggesting longer survival in patients treated with the pembrolizumab combination treatment versus standard chemotherapy. However, the combination treatment did not demonstrate an overall survival advantage over pembrolizumab monotherapy in patients with a PD-L1 positive tumour having a score of ≥50 per cent.

Professor Peter Johnson, NHS clinical director for cancer said in a press release: “This is the latest deal that the NHS has struck to help hundreds of patients every year, who will now be able to have this immunotherapy as an option for their lung cancer.”

Delighted by NICE's decision, Paula Chadwick, chief executive of the UK charity Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, said: “At a time where there has been so much bad news, knowing that more patients will continue to have another life-lengthening treatment option is fantastic, especially in light of such positive results from this latest study presented at the World Conference on Lung Cancer.”

The final guidance on the recommendation is expected in March 2021.

This article originally appeared on Univadis, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

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