Amgen UK has launched Vectibix in the UK for patients with metastatic colorectal cancer, following the drug’s European green light in December last year.

Specifically, the agent was cleared for use in patients with epidermal growth factor receptor-expressing metastatic colorectal cancer with non-mutated KRAS after chemotherapy has failed.

KRAS is a “clinically relevant biomarker” that indicates which patients are most likely to respond to treatment with Vectibix (panitumumab), which has been shown to double median progression-free survival compared to Best Supportive Care alone.

The biomarker should help doctors maximise response rates, disease control and progression-free survival while avoiding unnecessary side effects in patients not likely to respond to treatment as well as the associated waste of National Health Service resources, representing “an important step towards the increasing personalisation of cancer treatment”, said Bowel Cancer UK spokesman Ian Beaumont.

Vectibix is being launched hand-in-hand with a screening test for KRAS to enable doctors to quickly determine which patients are likely to benefit from the therapy. And as Dr Maurice Slevin, consultant medical oncologist at the London Oncology Clinic, noted: “Targeting cancer treatments is critical for the future if society is going to afford the ever increasing cost of innovative drugs.”

Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer in the UK, of which there are 36,000 new cases every year.