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NICE approves new life-extending liver cancer treatment

Friday 30th November 2018
A new life-extending drug is to be made available to some liver cancer patients.
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The National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has given its approval to a drug that will help extend the life of many adults with liver cancer.

Regorafenib, which is also known as Stivarga and made by Bayer, has been given the green light for use by people who have advanced liver cancer in cases where the organ itself is still functioning well but the diseased area cannot be surgically treated and they have already taken sorafenib, another life-extending drug. 

To be eligible, NICE stipulated the affected patients must have an Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group status of 0 or 1. This means they are able to carry out normal daily activities without restriction or can undertake light work while being restricted in more physically demanding tasks. 

Director for the NICE Centre for Health Technology Evaluation Meindert Boysen said: "Regorafenib is an important treatment option to extend the lives of people with previously treated advanced hepatocellular carcinoma after they’ve already been prescribed sorafenib.

"We are pleased that the company has responded by seeking a rapid review of our original guidance and offered a price that allows us to conclude that the drug is cost-effective for routine use on the NHS in England and Wales."

Chief executive of the British Liver Trust Judi Rhys noted that the drug could be particularly effective for conditions such as hepatocellular carcinoma, the most common form of liver cancer and a disease for which the five-year survival rate is only 12 years. 

She said that with very few effective treatments, the drug will be welcome because it will enable sufferers to spend "valuable extra time" with those close to them. 

NICE had begun considering the drug in March this year, at which time the cost was above the normal acceptable threshold for an end-of-life treatment, but sufficient discounts have been secured to overcome this hurdle, with a confidential price being obtained.

Written by James Puckle

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