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New lung cancer pill recommended for NHS use

22 August 2016 08:27

Crizotinib is the first pill for people with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer.

Crizotinib is the first pill for people with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer.

A new pill will be available through the NHS to help lung cancer patients fight their disease, after the manufacturer discounted the price of the drug.

Health officials are making a U-turn after previously saying the medication for advanced non-small-cell lung cancer was not value for money.

In new draft guidance, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) has recommended crizotinib for NHS use.

First oral treatment for lung cancer

Crizotinib, which costs around £51,000 per patient for a course of treatment, is the first pill for people with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer.

Up until now, patients' only option was intravenous chemotherapy given every three weeks.

Nice changed its decision after the manufacturer Pfizer further discounted the drug, which is also known as Xalkori.

"We are pleased that we have been able to work with Pfizer to secure a positive recommendation for crizotinib," said Professor Carole Longson, director of the health technology evaluation centre at Nice.

She added that the drug is a "really valuable option" for patients and it will now be routinely available on the NHS.

A "positive decision"

Paula Chadwick chief executive of the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, said: "Crizotinib represents a clear advance in treatment options for patients living with advanced lung cancer.

"In 2013, lung cancer had the lowest share of research funding across the big four cancers at 6%.

The foundation has since campaigned for more investment into research and treatment for patients living with lung cancer.

Ms Chadwick added: "Today's decision is a positive endorsement of this campaign and we applaud the NHS, Nice and Pfizer.

"We hope to see many more positive decisions and continued investment as we move one step closer to beating the UK's biggest cancer killer."

Holidays with cancer

Cancer need not spell an end to holidays abroad for patients. They can give themselves protection by taking out cancer-related travel insurance.

This can cover the cost of providing 24/7 emergency medical assistance and replacement medication.

It also covers the usual travel insurance things, such as lost passports, cancelled or delayed plane departures and stolen luggage or possessions.