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NICE rejects breast cancer drug for NHS funding

Decision now open to public consultation

Jo Carlowe

Friday, 19 October 2018

Cost-regulators have today rejected the breast cancer drug abemaciclib for routine funding on the NHS.

In draft guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) it was concluded that abemaciclib (also called Verzenios and made by Eli Lilly) is as effective as both palbociclib and ribociclib which NICE already recommends as options for treating hormone receptor-positive, human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) negative, locally advanced or metastatic breast cancer as initial hormone therapy.

However, NICE concluded: “Once the patient access schemes are taken into account, abemaciclib is not cost effective relative to the others.”

Abemaciclib, like palbociclib and ribociclib, is one of a new type of CDK4/6 inhibitor. These are taken with an aromatase inhibitor. The price of abemaciclib, which is given as a 150 mg tablet twice daily, is confidential, as is the commercial arrangement agreed with NHS England which would have applied if the drug had been recommended.

Around 46,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year in England and Wales, of whom the company estimates approximately 8000 would be eligible for treatment with abemaciclib.

Verzenios was approved in Europe for the treatment of certain metastatic breast cancers earlier this month, based on data from the Phase III MONARCH 2 and 3 trials.

The draft guidance is open for public consultation until Tuesday 8 November.

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