New Immunotherapy Treatment Available In UK

A revolutionary new lung cancer immunotherapy treatment is now available for some patients in the UK.

Nivolumab, which early trials have shown can extend survival, is not currently licensed for use in the UK but it has been announced that it will be made available via the government’s Early Access to Medicines Scheme.

It must be stressed that the drug is only available for a very limited number of patients, who have advanced or metastatic, squamous, non-small cell lung cancer, who have previously had chemotherapy.

Paula Chadwick, chief executive of Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, said: “Historically, there have been very few options for patients with lung cancer, so the availability of new treatments is definitely a cause for celebration.
“However, while the early trial results for this immunotherapy drug are extremely exciting, I would urge some caution for patients and their carers.
“Nivolumab is only available for a very limited number of patients with a very specific type of lung cancer, who have already had prior chemotherapy.
“My advice to patients and their carers is to speak to their doctor or lung cancer nurse specialist and see if they qualify.”

Access to the drug, through this scheme, will be funded by its manufacturer Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Life Sciences Minister George Freeman said: “Lung cancer is a devastating disease and the positive scientific opinion of nivolumab offers real hope to those who need it most. The government is committed to accelerating access to new 21st century medicines and I hope this is just one of many drugs that will be made available to patients through the Early Access to Medicines Scheme, giving them the best possible chance to fight their condition.”

Dr Tom Newsom-Davis, Consultant Medical Oncologist, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital commented: “Lung cancer is one of the most difficult-to-treat cancers because, once the disease has spread, treatment options are very limited and existing medical options have traditionally offered only modest improvements in survival. The decision to grant early access to nivolumab is therefore very positive as it means that patients have the potential to access a new medicine which has shown in clinical studies to offer significant extension of survival.”

Information for patients about accessing Nivolumab

Information for healthcare professionals

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