The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has approved Clovis Oncology’s Rubraca (rucaparib) for use in the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF).

The organisation has announced that the the advanced ovarian cancer treatment can now be offered to women with relapsed ovarian, fallopian tube or peritoneal cancer, that has responded to platinum-based chemotherapy.

Taken as a tablet, twice daily, the medicine works by slowing the progression of cancer by preventing cancer cells repairing, in turn slowing down the tumour’s growth.

As a result of the news, 1,350 people in England could benefit from the treatment, which will be made available immediately.

Initially the agency rejected Rubraca for use on the NHS, citing uncertainties in evidence and questions about the pricing of the drug. In previous trials it was shown to prevent cancer progression for twice as long as the placebo treatment – from 5.4 months to 10.8 months – despite the positive results, it is still not known how this will translate into overall extended life expectancy due to incomplete trial data.

Meindert Boysen, director of the NICE Centre for Health Technology Evaluation, reminded that “Many people with advanced ovarian cancer experience recurrent disease which requires multiple rounds of chemotherapy.”

He went on to explain: “Rucaparib offers patients a new treatment option to help prevent cancer growth, delaying the need for further chemotherapy and the associated side-effects.

“We’re therefore pleased with the positive response from the company that has led to rucaparib being approved for use in the Cancer Drugs Fund. This will allow patients to access the treatment immediately, while more evidence can be collected on its overall survival benefit.”

NICE has also recently recommended niraparib as a treatment for this patient group and olaparib tablets for the BRCA-positive subgroup, both for use in the CDF.