NICE recommends crizotinib for lung cancer

New draft guidance from NICE means hundreds of people will now have access to crizotinib, a twice-a-day pill for lung cancer.

Crizotinib is recommended for people with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer who haven't received treatment before.

Although it doesn’t cure the disease, crizotinib shrinks or slows growth of tumours by targeting a specific protein only found in cancerous cells.

Previously people with this type of lung cancer, who hadn't received treatment before, could only be treated with intravenous chemotherapy.

Taking a tablet means people avoid hospital which in turn frees up staff.

The pill usually costs £51,000 per patient for a course of treatment. 

When crizotinib was initially reviewed, the company had offered a discount but the NICE committee concluded that it was not cost-effective at that price. In response to this decision the company offered a further discount.

Professor Carole Longson, director of the health technology evaluation centre at NICE said: “We are pleased that we have been able to work with Pfizer to secure a positive recommendation for crizotinib. As crizotinib is available as an oral treatment, it's a really valuable option for people with untreated lung cancer that will now be routinely available on the NHS.”

Crizotinib is licenced for use in people whose cancer has a specific genetic mutation known as ALK-positive.

Around 459 patients are expected to be eligible for first-line treatment with crizotinib in England and Wales.

Although this is a draft decision from NICE, reforms to the Cancer Drugs Fund means crizotinib will be immediately funded by NHS England.

As crizotinib is available as an oral treatment, it's a really valuable option for people with untreated lung cancer that will now be routinely available on the NHS.

Professor Carole Longson, director of the health technology evaluation centre at NICE