Novartis’ Afinitor and Pfizer’s Sutent have received backing from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence as cost-effective treatment options for certain neuroendocrine tumours (NETs).

The Institute has now published final guidelines recommending both drugs for ‘routine’ NHS commissioning when NETs of pancreatic origin cannot be operated on and have progressed.

Afinitor (everolimus) can also be considered an option for patients with NETs of a gastrointestinal or lung origin when the disease has progressed.

The drug is an active inhibitor of the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) protein, a central regulator of tumour cell division and blood vessel growth in cancer cells. Sutent (sunitinib) inhibits the protein kinase, an enzyme that plays a part in the growth of cancer cells.

According to NICE, clinical trial evidence shows that both drugs are effective for treating NETs compared with current treatment (best supportive care) in their respective settings.

An independent committee heard there are few treatment options available for NETs and that these two drugs will be welcomed by patients due to this unmet need.

There are around 3000 new cases of NETs diagnosed annually in the UK; it is estimated that nearly 1,000 patients would be eligible for treatment with Afinitor and Sutent (sunitinib) in England every year.