Certain patients with lung cancer could soon get routine access to Boehringer Ingelheim’s Vargatef on the National Health Service after a u-turn by cost regulators.

Vargatef (nintedanib) is an angiogenesis inhibitor approved in Europe in combination with docetaxel for treating locally advanced, metastatic or locally recurrent non-small-cell lung cancer of adenocarcinoma histology that has progressed after first-line chemotherapy.

But the drug was initially turned down in draft guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence back in November on grounds that it is “too expensive for the benefit it provides”, after concluding that the cost per QALY is likely to be near £70,000.

Now the Institute has had a change of heart, recommending Vargatef - which costs £2,151.10 for a 30-day pack of capsules - within its licensed indication after Boehringer submitted new analyses and a confidential patient access scheme to help secure its cost effectiveness. 

“We are extremely pleased that Vargatef has been recommended especially as the options in this setting are so limited,” said Zinta Krumins, Country Manager, Boehringer Ingelheim UK and Ireland, noting “this will come as welcome news to patients, their families and carers”.