The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has recommended that MSD’s Keytruda be funded on the NHS via the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) for a subgroup of people with relapsed or refractory classical Hodgkin lymphoma.

The Institute noted that there are limited treatment options for people who have not responded to, or only temporarily respond to, brentuximab vedotin and cannot have stem cell transplant.

While the evidence shows that Keytruda (pembrolizumab) increased progression-free survival and response rates, long-term evidence of clinical effectiveness remains uncertain, it said.

In draft guidelines, NICE’s appraisal committee felt that the drug could be cost effective for people unable to have autologous stem cell transplant because it may enable some of them to have potentially curative allogenic stem cell transplant. However, the number who might benefit in this way, and their long-term outcomes, is not clear.

As such, the committee recommended that the treatment is made available through the CDF, to allow for more clinical-effectiveness data to be collected.

The anti-PD-1 therapy won European clearance in the Hodgkin lymphoma setting in May last year, on data from the KEYNOTE-087 and KEYNOTE-013 trials, which included patients regardless of the PD-L1 expression.

KEYNOTE-087 showed an objective response rate of 69 percent in the Keytruda (pembrolizumab) arm with a complete response rate of 22 percent and a partial remission rate of 47 percent, while KEYNOTE-013’s data showed 58 percent, 19 percent and 39 percent, respectively.