AstraZeneca and MSD have announced that Lynparza (olaparib) is now recommended for use within the Cancer Drugs Fund for women with newly diagnosed advancedBRCA-mutated ovarian cancer.

The national Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommended the drug specifically for the maintenance treatment of BRCA mutation-positive, advanced (FIGO stages 3 and 4) high-grade epithelial ovarian, fallopian tube or primary peritoneal cancer that has responded to first-line platinum-based chemotherapy in adults, and is recommended only if the conditions in the managed access agreement for the drug are followed.

The decision was made as data show that it reduces the risk of disease progression or death in such patients by 70% vs placebo, and nearly two thirds (60%) of patients receiving the drug remain free of disease progression after three years versus 27% in the placebo arm.

Dr Susana Banerjee, consultant medical oncologist at The Royal Marsden, co-author on the SOLO-1 trial, explained that lynparza is a “practice-changing treatment and I am delighted that, for the first time, it is to be made available via the NHS in England to women with newly diagnosed, BRCA-mutated advanced ovarian cancer.”

She went on to say that “Today’s decision is based on the results of the landmark SOLO-1 clinical trial, which showed that olaparib can extend progression-free survival for these women by around three years, giving them longer before further rounds of chemotherapy are needed, as well as the possibility of increased survival.”

11 people die every day from ovarian cancer in the UK, with six out of 10 cases of ovarian cancer diagnosed in England already at an advanced stage. Approximately 22% of ovarian cancer patients carry a BRCA mutation, which can be identified via genetic testing upon referral by a healthcare professional.