A ground-breaking new drug which can significantly reduce the risk of cancer returning is to be made available to thousands of lung cancer patients in England, the NHS has announced today.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has approved the use of immunotherapy, Atezolizumab, for patients with early-stage non-small cell lung cancer whose tumours express the PD-L1 mutation, and who have undergone surgery and chemotherapy, after clinical trials have shown the therapy can reduce the risk of cancer recurrence or death by 34%.
The decision makes Atezolizumab the first immunotherapy approved for patients with early-stage disease, and England the second country in Europe to offer this innovative treatment.
Eligible patients will start to receive treatment within a matter of weeks.
Paula Chadwick, chief executive of Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, is delighted by the news:
“This is fantastic news, and we are delighted patients in England will have access to this cutting-edge treatment so quickly.
We have seen the impact immunotherapy treatment can have on people with late-stage lung cancer. The fact that clinical trials are now showing it can also significantly reduce the chance of lung cancer coming back is immense.
Receiving a lung cancer diagnosis is devastating and sadly, the nature of the disease can mean even when it is caught early, people can still suffer from recurrence and have to go through the trauma of a diagnosis all over again.
This treatment hopefully marks to start of ways we can significantly reduce the risk of lung cancer returning and see people living through rather than dying from lung cancer.”
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 which has the potential to dramatically reduce their risk of cancer relapse.
“The NHS has a strong track record of securing rapid access to innovative, trailblazing treatments for our patients, and this is the latest agreement that places a brand new treatment in the hands of frontline NHS staff, supporting them to continue to deliver world-class patient care.
“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 spear-headed by the NHS”.