NHS treatment cost regulators have published draft guidelines rejecting funding for Eisai’s Lenvima and Bayer’s Nexavar for treating certain patients with thyroid cancer.

The decision relates to advanced differentiated thyroid cancer that has spread to other parts of the body and cannot be operated on, in adults whose disease does not respond to radioactive iodine.

The committee heard that thyroid cancer is rare, and that the only option for patients unable to receive treatment with  Lenvima (lenvatinib) or Nexavar (sorafenib) is best supportive care.

In the draft guidelines, NICE notes that both drugs are effective in delaying disease progression compared to best supportive care, but says there is some uncertainty in establishing longer term survival.

The committee concluded that the incremental cost effectiveness ratios (ICERs) were “considerably higher” than what is normally considered to be cost effective to recommend for routine NHS use, but could not provide more specific details as the exact figures are commercially sensitive.

Also, as there are no ongoing clinical trials which might provide more evidence on overall survival benefit, the drugs could not be considered for inclusion in the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) either.

Approximately 3,400 people are diagnosed with thyroid cancer each year.