Atezolizumab now available on the NHS for lung cancer patients

Atezolizumab now available on the NHS for lung cancer patients
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Thousands of lung cancer patients in England will be fast-tracked the revolutionary new drug, atezolizumab, which significantly reduces the risk of cancer returning.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has now approved the effective therapy, atezolizumab, to treat non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), with more than 850 patients in England expected to be eligible for the drug in the first year, rising to more than 1000 in the third year.

Amanda Pritchard, chief executive of NHS England, said: “I’m delighted that the NHS in England has secured this deal so we can continue to offer patients the best in cutting-edge drugs and state-of-the-art treatments. By making atezolizumab available at the earliest opportunity, NHS patients now have a very exciting new treatment that has the potential to dramatically reduce their risk of cancer relapse.”

New hope for lung cancer patients

Atezolizumab is the first immunotherapy approved for patients with early-stage NSCLC whose tumours express the PD-L1 mutation, and who have undergone surgery and chemotherapy. These patients are at risk of their cancer returning, and England is only the second country in Europe to make this treatment available.

Amanda Pritchard commented: “The NHS Long Term Plan set out an ambition that 55,000 more people will survive their cancer each year, and this treatment is great news for patients whose lung cancer is picked up early by the Targeted Lung Health Checks pilot, which is another pioneering initiative spearheaded by the NHS.”

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “The UK is renowned for its ability to find and deploy the most innovative treatments the world has to offer to NHS patients.

“This breakthrough will be life-changing for hundreds of people and marks a significant development in our war on cancer.”

Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer death in the UK, accounting for around a fifth of all cancer deaths. Atezolizumab will be life-changing for NSCLC patients.

Atezolizumab can reduce death or recurrence by 34%

Clinical trials have shown atezolizumab (Tecentriq) can significantly reduce the risk of cancer recurrence or death by 34% in people with early-stage NSCLC, following surgery and chemotherapy.

Atezolizumab is given as an IV drip; it works by blocking a protein that stops the immune system from attacking cancer cells by making cancer cells more visible to the immune system.

Professor Charles Swanton, Cancer Research UK’s chief clinician, said: “It’s great to see this drug approved so quickly, bringing even more optimism to tackling a difficult to treat cancer.

“Sadly, early-stage lung cancers often come back after surgery, especially larger tumours, and the approval of atezolizumab treatment for PD-L1+ non-small cell lung cancer is a major step forward as a follow-up treatment after surgery and chemotherapy.

“Atezolizumab will help to dramatically reduce the risk of tumours coming back and increase the chance of curing the disease long term – allowing patients to return to normal life.”

Project Orbis

Project Orbis is an international partnership between medicine regulators in the UK, US, Australia, and others, intending to speed up the approval process of promising new cancer treatments. England is the second European country to make atezolizumab available, after Switzerland, which is also a member of Project Orbis.

Dame June Raine, MHRA Chief Executive, said: “Through the MHRA’s membership of Project Orbis, an innovative programme coordinated by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with other regulators across the world, we are working to ensure that patients receive earlier access to promising cancer treatments.

“Following our rigorous review, Tecentriq can now be prescribed to more patients suffering from lung cancer, enabling the NHS to extend patient access to this life-saving treatment.”

Gemma Boni, Head of Lung Cancer, Roche Products Limited, said: “We are delighted that patients treated with early-stage non-small cell lung cancer in England will now have access to this treatment option.

“This decision further underscores the significant benefit offered by immunotherapies in cancer treatment and contributes to the fight against cancer.”

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