The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has published two sets of final guidances for treatments addressing alcohol dependency and stomach cancer recurrence.

The National Health Service now has three months to ensure that funding is in place for Lundbeck’s Selincro (nalmefene), after NICE concluded that it is a cost-effective option for reducing alcohol consumption in adults with alcohol dependence.

The move means that, for the first time, patients will have access to a pill designed to cut alcohol intake as opposed to stop it altogether, which many believe is a more realistic treatment target that could reach more in need.

According to Lundbeck, alongside counselling Selincro could help more than halve the amount of alcohol consumed - by an average of 61% after six months, which equates to around 28 fewer bottles of wine per person over one month. Such a reduction could also go some way to tackling the huge £3.5 billion drag alcohol misuse places on the NHS in England alone.

Selincro is priced at £42.42 for a pack of 14 tablets or £84.84 for a packet of 28 tablets (excluding VAT), which NICE has deemed value for money.

Glivec backed for GIST

Final guidelines have also been published on Novartis’ Glivec (imatinib) for up to three years in patients who have had a gastro-intestinal stromal tumour (GIST) removed and are at high risk of the cancer recurring. 

The Committee concluded that the cost per QALY (Quality Adjusted Life Year) was between £3,610 and £12,100 for one-year adjuvant Glivec compared with no adjuvant treatment, and between £16,700 and £30,000 for three-year adjuvant Glivec compared with one-year adjuvant Glivec, falling within normal cost-effectiveness thresholds.

Previous guidance in 2010 rejected funding for Glivec in this setting, but “since the publication of the original guidance, clear evidence has emerged showing that giving imatinib after surgery can delay the recurrence of GISTs and in some cases increase survival,” said Professor Carole Longson, health technology evaluation centre director at NICE, explaining the change of heart.