The UK National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has recommended Bristol Myers Squibb’s (BMS) Opdivo for the treatment of unresectable advanced oesophageal squamous cell cancer (OSCC).

Following the positive final appraisal document, Opdivo becomes the first immuno-oncology monotherapy for the treatment of OSCC patients in England who have previously failed chemotherapy.

“The news today that NICE has approved nivolumab as the first immunotherapy to treat this life-limiting cancer, is a huge step forward for patients, families and those who treat the disease, and demonstrates Bristol Myers Squibb’s commitment to discovering and developing new treatment options for patients living with oesophageal cancer,” said Hubert Bland, executive medical director UK & Ireland, BMS.

“Immunotherapy adds an important option to the treatments available for patients living with unresectable advanced oesophageal squamous cell cancer,” he added.

NICE’s recommendation is supported by data from the Phase III ATTRACTION-3 study, which demonstrated a significant improvement in overall survival (OS) with Opdivo compared to taxane chemotherapy.

Patients treated with Opdivo had a median OS of 10.91 months, compared with 8.51 months with CT.

In addition, the OS rates of patients with Opdivo and taxane chemotherapy were found to be 20.2% and 13.4% at 24 months and 15.3% and 8.7% at 36 months, respectively.

The current primary cancer treatment for OSCC is chemotherapy, with 45% of patients receiving it during their curative or palliative cancer treatment.