Patient access scheme

The patient access scheme for erlotinib has changed. The Department of Health and the manufacturer have agreed that erlotinib will be offered to the NHS under a patient access scheme (as revised in 2012), which makes erlotinib available with a discount on the list price applied to original invoices. The discount applies for all indications of erlotinib.

The size of the discount is commercial in confidence. It is the responsibility of the manufacturer to communicate details of the discount to relevant NHS organisations. Any enquiries from NHS organisations about the patient access scheme should be directed to Roche Customer Care (0800 731 5711).

NICE technology appraisal guidance 162 is under review. Publication of the reviewed guidance is expected in 2014.


Erlotinib is recommended as an alternative to docetaxel for patients with non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) who have already tried one chemotherapy regimen but it has not worked. Erlotinib should be used only when the manufacturer provides the drug at the same overall treatment cost as docetaxel. This cost includes the cost of giving the drug, treatments for any side effects and the cost of monitoring patients to check that treatment is working.

If the overall treatment cost is equal, specialists should discuss with patients the potential benefits and risks of erlotinib and docetaxel before deciding which treatment to use.

Erlotinib is not recommended for people with locally advanced or metastatic NSCLC who cannot take docetaxel and have already tried one chemotherapy regimen but it has not worked.

Erlotinib is not recommended for people who have already tried two chemotherapy regimens, including docetaxel, but they haven't worked.

Healthcare professionals should not stop prescribing erlotinib for people who were already taking it when the guidance was issued. These patients should be able to carry on taking erlotinib until they and their specialist decide that it is the right time to stop treatment.

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