A new life-extending treatment for advanced cervical cancer has now been made available on the NHS.
The immunotherapy drug pembrolizumab is expected to help around 400 patients whose disease hasn’t responded to other treatments.
NHS England fast-tracked the drug through the Cancer Drugs Fund making it the first new NHS treatment for incurable cervical cancer for 14 years.
The Cancer Drugs Fund pays for cancer treatments while data on their clinical effectiveness is collected meaning people have earlier access to them.
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NHS national director for cancer, Dame Cally Palmer said: ‘This has been made possible thanks to the Cancer Drugs Fund, which allows the NHS to get early access to the latest cancer treatments, and is just the latest example of NHS England using its commercial capabilities to deliver on the NHS Long Term Plan commitment to provide patients with the latest cutting-edge treatments for cancer.’
The drug will be given in combination with standard chemotherapy as clinical data suggests this may help extend patients’ lives by up to 8 months on average.
Health minister, Helen Whately said: ‘Today is a win for women, offering the hope of more precious time with loved ones.’
Once NICE collects enough clinical evidence on the treatment they will re-evaluate and decide whether it will be considered for routine NHS use.
‘Pembrolizumab shows promise as the first effective immunotherapy. However, to ensure the best use of limited public funding, we need additional evidence to fully analyse its clinical and cost effectiveness before it can be considered for routine NHS use,’ said Helen Knight, director of medicines evaluation at NICE.