Taken as a once-a-day capsule, niraparib (also known as Zejula and made by GSK) is recommended for people whose cancer has relapsed and have a specific mutation in their cancer known as a BRCA mutation and who have had two courses of platinum-based chemotherapy. Niraparib is also recommended for people with these forms of cancer who do not have a BRCA mutation and who have had two or more courses of platinum-based chemotherapy.
Over 400 people with some forms of ovarian, peritoneal, or fallopian tube cancer will now have routine access to the treatment.
The recommendation has been made after further evidence was gathered to assess its clinical and cost-effectiveness.
The additional evidence gathered found that niraparib improves how long it takes for the cancer to get worse and may also extend life.
For people without a BRCA mutation, clinical evidence showed the average time it took for the disease to progress was over 9 months with niraparib and almost 4 months with placebo, while for people with a BRCA mutation it took over 20 months for the disease to progress with niraparib and almost 6 months with placebo. Results of a naive comparison to estimate relative effectiveness of niraparib compared with routine surveillance are uncertain.
Jenniffer Prescott, programme director in the centre for health technology evaluation at NICE, said: “Today represents a landmark day. Following the introduction of new arrangements for the Cancer Drugs Fund in 2016, we have been able to recommend managed access for a significant number of treatments within the Fund. Niraparib is the 20th treatment that has completed this process and I am delighted we are able to recommend it for people with these forms of cancer.
“The Cancer Drugs Fund has played a pivotal role in getting innovative treatments to people who need it most, and gives an opportunity to gather vital evidence on the clinical and cost-effectiveness of those treatments.
“People with these forms of fallopian, peritoneal and ovarian cancer have a poor prognosis and limited treatment options available to them, particularly if they do not have the BRCA mutation. Today’s recommendation provides hope that they can have a longer and an improved quality of life.”
National Medical Director of the NHS Professor Steve Powis said: “It is fantastic that the NHS has expanded access to this game-changing drug so more women who have been diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer can be treated, having already helped more than 400 women a year since 2018 through the Cancer Drugs Fund, which allows the health service to get early access to the latest treatments.
“This treatment is life-changing for women with advanced ovarian cancer, helping them to live longer and better lives by preventing or delaying the return of tumours after chemotherapy, and is just another example of how the NHS is delivering on our Long Term Plan commitment to provide patients with cutting-edge treatments for cancer.
“The NHS has continued to treat cancer patients throughout the pandemic and I would urge anyone with symptoms, no matter how small they may seem, to come forward for a check-up from your doctor.”
Niraparib is a type of anti-cancer medicine called a poly adenosine diphosphate-ribose polymerase (PARP) inhibitor. PARP is an enzyme that helps cells repair damaged DNA. By blocking this enzyme, PARP inhibitors prevent the DNA of cancer cells being repaired, preventing them from growing and spreading.