NICE has recommended that two thyroid cancer drugs, Ipsen’s Cometriq (cabozantinib) and Bayer’s Nexavar (sorafenib), should come off the Cancer Drugs Fund and into routine NHS use.

NICE has also recommended that Eisai’s Lenvima (lenvatinib) should be routinely available.

Cometriq, which treats medullary thyroid cancer (MTC) was previously available via the Cancer Drugs Fund, and under the new-look NICE appraisal system, successfully demonstrated cost-effectiveness to the NHS and clinical value in a real-world setting.

The drug is recommended as an option for treating progressive MTC in adults with unresectable, locally advanced or metastatic disease. This is a rare cancer, accounting for 3-12 percent of all thyroid cancers, and can spread to the lungs or bone. Approximately 25 percent of MTCs are the result of an inherited faulty gene that runs in the family.

“Patients with medullary thyroid cancer typically have a poor prognosis and currently have limited treatment options available,” said Ewan McDowall, general manager of Ipsen UK & Ireland “We are therefore delighted that NICE has approved Cometriq® for use via the NHS for eligible patients in England after previously being available via the Cancer Drugs Fund. We believe that any medicine that has the potential to improve the life of a patient with cancer, should be treated as an absolute priority, regardless of whether it is a rare cancer that affects only a few or one that affects many. We are grateful for the opportunity to work collaboratively with health authorities including NICE, as we recognise resources are finite, yet often patients do not have time to wait.”

In the other appraisal, Lenvima and Nexavar are now recommended as options for differentiated thyroid cancers that have continued to grow or spread around the body after surgery and radioactive iodine therapy.

Differentiated thyroid cancers are the most common type of thyroid cancer and affect around 1,800 to 2,790 people each year in England. Approximately 200 of those people have tumours that continue to grow after radioactive iodine therapy.

Both drugs work by blocking certain proteins in cancer cells to shrink the tumours, extending the length of time people live with this type of thyroid cancer.

Mirella Marlow, acting director of the NICE centre for health technology evaluation, commented: “Treatment options for these types of thyroid cancer are limited, so it is important that we are able to give patients much-needed access to alternatives to best supportive care at this stage of their disease. These drugs will give patients extra time, as well as improving their quality of life.”