Treatment involves adults with certain forms of advanced stomach and oesophageal cancer

Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS) has announced that the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has issued a final appraisal document recommending Opdivo.

The drug – also known as nivolumab – is used in combination with chemotherapy and is set to be made available on the NHS to treat adult patients with HER2-negative advanced stomach and oesophageal cancer.

Nivolumab plus chemotherapy has already demonstrated improved progression-free survival and overall survival compared with chemotherapy alone.

Currently, there is a high unmet need in patients with stomach or oesophageal cancer. The conditions are often associated with poor prognosis and a significant impact on quality of life.

Scott Cooke, general manager, UK and Ireland at BMS, reflected: “We’re pleased that NICE has recommended nivolumab plus chemotherapy as an alternative first-line treatment for adult patients with advanced or metastatic stomach, gastro oesophageal junction (GOJ) or oesophageal cancer whose tumours express PD-L1 with a combined positive score of five or more.”

He added: “Today’s approval demonstrates the potential of nivolumab-based combinations to improve survival expectations for patients with hard-to-treat cancers. We are grateful to all those involved in the clinical trial and NICE submission process, who have made it possible for us to offer an alternative treatment option to those who need it.”

“A diagnosis of advanced stomach, GOJ or oesophageal cancer is devastating for patients, many of whom would not have experienced or noticed symptoms until their cancer was already at an advanced, hard-to-treat stage,” added Julie Harrington, chief executive officer of Guts UK. “It is crucial that more treatments are made available for patients with advanced forms of these cancers, which is why we are delighted by NICE’s decision to recommend nivolumab plus chemotherapy as a first-line treatment option.”

Stomach and oesophageal cancers represent two of the six less survivable cancers. Every year in the UK, there are approximately 9,300 new cases of oesophageal cancer and around 6,500 new cases of gastric cancer.