New treatment can delay chemotherapy for women with advanced breast cancer

NICE has announced today it recommends that abemaciclib (Verzenio, Eli Lilly) given with fulvestrant should be available for NHS use within the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF).

Thousands of women with advanced breast cancer may now be eligible for the new combination treatment which has been shown to slow disease progression and delay the need for chemotherapy.

The treatment could be an option for up to 4,800 women who have already had endocrine treatment for hormone receptor-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer which has spread to other parts of the body. It will be an option where exemestane plus everolimus would be the most appropriate alternative treatment.

Clinical trial evidence suggests that compared with fulvestrant alone, abemaciclib with fulvestrant increases the length of time before the disease progresses. However, there is a lack of evidence around the overall survival benefit and around its cost-effectiveness, meaning it has been recommended for use within the CDF while more data is collected.

This guidance will be reviewed when the final analysis of the MONARCH 2 study is available, which is expected to be February 2020.

Meindert Boysen, director of the Centre for Health Technology Assessment at NICE, said: “The committee heard from patients that a treatment which could postpone or avoid the need for chemotherapy is important because chemotherapy has the potential to substantially reduce quality of life. They also highlighted the importance of people remaining in better health longer, without the disease progressing.

“Today’s recommendation is another example of NICE and NHS England collaborating effectively to give people faster access to promising cancer treatments through the Cancer Drugs Fund.”