NHS approves 'game changing' lung cancer drug

NHS drug watchdogs approve ‘game changing’ lung cancer medicine which may give patients an extra TWO YEARS of life

  • Drug targets a particular type of mutated growth gene found in some tumours
  • Called mobocertinib, a month course of the tablets is thought to cost about £19k
  • NHS England says about 100 people per year  will be eligible to take the drug

NHS drug watchdogs have today approved a ‘game changing’ drug for lung cancer patients.

Mobocertinib tablets will be given to patients battling a rare and aggressive form of the disease, Britain’s biggest cancer killer.

Roughly 100 people will be eligible to take the drug every year, with doctors set to start to dishing it out within weeks.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said mobocertinib was a ‘lifeline’ for dozens. Trials have shown it can extend the lives of patients by up to two years.

NHS officials struck a deal for the drug, thought to cost almost £19,000 ($25,000) for a month’s supply, with Japanese pharmaceutical firm Takeda. 

Professor Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director, today insisted the deal was ‘affordable’ for the taxpayer. 

He said it was ‘fantastic news’ for patients battling the rare type of cancer, which is driven by a type of altered gene called epidermal growth factor receptor exon 20 insertion mutations. 

NHS drug watchdogs have approved mobocertinibc, brand name Exkivity, for a specific group of lung cancer patients, with about 100 patients per year expected to receive it in England 

Health Secretary Sajid Javid (pictured at Conservative Party Spring Conference in Blackpool today) said the drug will be a ‘lifeline’ for those with this rare form of lung cancer

What type of drug is mobocertinib?

Mobocertinib is a kinase inhibitor.

Kinase is type of enzyme which promotes cell growth.

There are many types of kinase.

Mobocertinib blocks a specific type of kinase from working which helps slow the growth of cancer cells in a particular type of tumour found in some lung cancer patients.

What benefits does it have for patients?

Mobocertinib only works on a specific type of lung cancer cancer which has a certain mutated gene.

Clinical trials in patients with this type of cancer have suggested it can extend their life for up to two years.  

How many patients are set to benefit here in the UK?

NHS England estimates about 100 people will benefit from from this treatment per year. 

It will only be given to patients who’ve already undergone chemotherapy and whose cancer can’t be removed surgically. 

How much does it cost?

It is estimated to cost just under £19,000 per month though the NHS is acquiring it on a zero-profit basis for the manufacturer. 

Who makes it? 

Japanese pharmaceutical firm Takeda make it under the brand name Exkivity.

How is taken?

It comes in tablets which people prescribed it take one of each day. 

Are there any side effects? 

It can cause slow or irregular heart beats that can lead to heart failure as well as severe diarrhoea. 

Patients have their heart health measured before being prescribed the drug and are regularly monitored while they take it. 

Other more minor side affects like rashes and vomiting have also been reported.

Nowhere else in Europe has yet to receive the drug, although the US approved the drug for use in September last year.  

Professor Powis added: ‘This is the latest in a long list of deals we have struck to provide the latest cutting-edge cancer treatments for patients – at a price affordable for the taxpayer.’

Exkivity is the branded name of the drug. Mobocertinib inhibits a type of kinase, an enzyme which promotes cell growth, found in a some types of lung cancer, slowing the growth of the disease.  

It has a number of possible side effects including serious ones like heart failure, and severe diarrhoea.

More common side affects include rashes, vomiting, non-severe diarrhoea, decreased appetite, muscle or bone pain, infection of the skin around nails, mouth sores and tiredness. 

It is only given to patients who’ve already undergone chemotherapy, whose cancer can’t be removed by surgery.

The cancer the drug targets is called non-small cell lung cancer, with between 4 to 12 per cent of tumours caused by this type of cancer having the altered gene that mobocertinib works against. 

Patients will have to undergo a test to determine if the cancer they have could be slowed by the drug.  

Trials show that some patients who have taken mobocertinib have lived for two years after being treated with the breakthrough drug.

NHS England significantly longer than expected for patients with this type of lung cancer.  

Mr Javid said: ‘NHS patients are the first in Europe to benefit from this cutting-edge new treatment for lung cancer.

‘Mobocertinib is a breakthrough drug which will be a lifeline for those with this rare form of the illness.’ 

Mobocertinib will be accessible to eligible lung cancer patients in England on a zero-profit basis for the manufacturer to the NHS while NICE completes its ongoing appraisal. 

Dame June Raine, chief executive of medical watchdog the MHRA, said: ‘We are working to ensure patients receive earlier access to promising cancer treatments.’ 

Helen Knight, programme director in the centre for health technology evaluation at NICE, said she was ‘delighted’ about the deal. 

This is the fourth drug made available by the NHS through an early national access agreement following a Project Orbis licence.

Project Orbis is an international collaborative project between the drug approval authorities of the US, UK and six other nations. 

Similar NHS agreements already exist for osimertinib, atezolizumab, and cutting-edge therapy Sotorasib which targets the so-called “death star” mutation. 

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