Novartis’ Afinitor (everolimus) has received backing from UK cost-effectiveness body NICE for routine use in patients with advanced kidney cancer. 

The drug is now available as a second-line treatment in cases of advanced renal cell carcinoma that has progressed during or following treatment with vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-targeted therapy.

The decision follows a positive recommendation from NICE earlier this year based on new data submitted from the RECORD-1 trial. The drug resulted in greater progression-free and overall survival in patients taking Afinitor after VEGF-targeted therapy by approximately three months in both cases.

“The company engaged positively with the process of reconsidering drugs in the CDF [Cancer Drugs Fund], demonstrated their drug to be cost-effective, and as such we were pleased to make a positive recommendation,” said Professor Carole Longson, director of the Centre for Health Technology Evaluation at NICE. “This decision, when implemented, will allow funding in the CDF to be freed up, which can then be spent on other new and innovative cancer treatments.”

NICE had originally rejected Afinitor in this indication in April 2011 based on its high price, but eventually made it available through the CDF.

In its final guidance for the drug, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) judged Afinitor to be cheap enough to be provided through the NHS following a cut-price deal struck with the Swiss pharma.

In order to ensure its drug remained available through the CDF – a scheme for which NICE is currently in the process of reviewing a variety of ‘legacy’ drugs to make room for newer, more promising medicines – Novartis slashed the drugs price to £32,076 per patient.

A pack of 10mg Afinitor tablets is £2,673, however, considering its patient access scheme discount, NICE concluded the drug to be less than £30,000 per quality of life year gained.

Afinitor targets a molecule called mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) – a protein known to play a key role in cell division and the formation of new blood vessels and is overexpressed in many types of cancer, including breast, prostate, lung, melanoma, bladder, brain, and renal cancers.

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