Patients with thyroid cancer could be waiting three years for access to Eisai's Lenvima because the drug was left out of the re-launched Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) and NICE guidance is not to be published until 2018.
Expressing "dismay" at the situation, Eisai said because the drug was not appraised before the CDF closed it is currently in a "black hole" in the appraisal process, and has called for a transitional arrangement to allow access to Lenvima (lenvatinib) on the NHS.
"It is sad that patients living in England cannot access lenvatinib for advanced thyroid cancer which was developed and manufactured in this country. We believe there is an immediate solution, a transitional arrangement, to allow patients access to a treatment which has been disproportionately delayed by the changes in the CDF process," said Gary Hendler, Chairman and chief executive of Eisai EMEA.
He also warned that Eisai "may be forced to consider its level of investment in the UK because it is unacceptable that drugs which are manufactured in England cannot be provided to people in England, without delays of many years".
Patients with advanced thyroid cancer face a bleak prognosis, and desperately need new treatment options. According to Eisai, clinical trial data show that Lenvima significantly prolonged progression-free survival, with patients taking the drug experiencing a median 18.3 months PFS versus 3.6 months for those taking a placebo.
The company said it will consider all options, including possible legal action, to secure fair and equitable access for people with rarer cancers.