NHS England strikes deal on new NICE recommended lung cancer immunotherapy drug

NHS chief Simon Stevens has today announced that NHS England has struck a deal with MSD, endorsed by NICE, to make the lung cancer drug pembrolizumab available for routine use on the NHS.

New trial results show pembrolizumab extends life for certain adults with lung cancer for more than a year.

Pembrolizumab is the first drug to break the new budget impact threshold for new products costing more than £20 million a year, which is why NHS England has worked closely with MSD to reach a deal, showing the new system works for patients, the taxpayer and industry.

The drug, which is also known as Keytruda, would have cost around £84,000 per patient at its full list price. NHS England and MSD have agreed a confidential arrangement for reimbursement which will enable NICE to recommend it be routinely available on the NHS.

Simon Stevens, NHS England chief executive said: “This is another milestone in our rapidly improving modern NHS cancer care. This win-win deal for patients and taxpayers brings genuine innovation and proven survival gains to cancer patients across england.”

Meindert Boysen, director of the NICE centre for health technology evaluation, said: “We have to make sure that any new treatment we recommend works well and is a good use of NHS resources. Recent changes to the CDF mean we have more flexibility in our process so we can grant early access to promising drugs whilst more data is gathered on their long-term benefits.

“Pembrolizumab is one of the first new cancer drugs to benefit from this flexible approach and it can now be used routinely in the NHS. In the past 20 years there have been few improvements for people with this type of lung cancer so we are pleased to recommend routine access to pembrolizumab on the NHS.”

Louise Houson, UK Managing Director, MSD said: “As the clinical experience and scientific data behind pembrolizumab continue to excite everyone involved, MSD, NICE and the NHS are working in partnership and rising to the challenge of making it accessible to relevant patients. Since 2016, the structure of the CDF has provided a framework within which to progress the availability of pembrolizumab to patients while gaining more and more evidence to support its routine funding across the NHS. This has followed initial experience through our work with the Early Access to Medicines Scheme for pembrolizumab.

“Today’s news on funding for pembrolizumab as a first-line lung cancer treatment in relevant patients is a tribute to the partnership we have all achieved and another great step forward.”

Pembrolizumab has previously been available via the Early Access to Medicines Scheme, it is also one of the first drugs to be made available via the new CDF, while the findings of a new study that would answer uncertainties around the evidence were collected.

It is licensed to treat untreated lung cancer which has spread to other parts of the body, where tumours have specific protein and genetic markers. Treatment gives patients an average of an extra 16 months of life.