Bayer’s Stivarga is being backed by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence as a cost-effective option for the treatment of adults with gastrointestinal stromal tumours (GIST).

In final draft guidance, the cost watchdog has approved routine funding for the drug’s provision on the NHS in England and Wales to treat patients with the condition who progressed on or are intolerant to prior treatment with imatinib and sunitinib.

Stivarga (regorafenib) has been available for patients with GIST - a common type of sarcoma arising from the muscle wall of the gastrointestinal tract - on the Cancer Drugs Fund since 2013, but with this latest decision will switch into the NHS’ normal commissioning stream.

The decision will “bring greater long-term certainty for patients with GIST who failed on previous therapies,” noted Nic Puntis, chair of GIST Support UK. “Importantly, GIST patients in England will now have routine access to this important treatment option like those currently living in Scotland and Wales.”

According to NICE, evidence shows regorafenib can extend a patient’s life by more than nine months compared to ‘best supportive care’; the alternative treatment for people with this type of progressive cancer.

There are around 900 new cases of gastrointestinal stromal tumours every year in the UK, but Bayer estimates that around 58 patients will be eligible for treatment with its drug in the first year.