Cancer patients will likely get routine access to Novartis' Afinitor and Pfizer's Xalkori on the NHS after a positive recommendation was handed down from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.

The cost watchdog is currently re-reviewing both drugs as part of programme to appraise medicines available through the old Cancer Drugs Fund.

Afinitor, in combination with exemestane, is being provisionally recommended as a treatment for treating HER2-negative, hormone-receptor-positive advanced breast cancer, after Novartis offered a larger discount to the NHS to boost its cost-effectiveness.

The drug, which costs between £2,250 and £2,673 per month without discount, is licensed for use in postmenopausal women with this type of breast cancer if their disease has returned or progressed following initial treatment with a non-steroidal aromatase inhibitor and there are no symptoms from visceral disease.

"The committee heard that people with breast cancer would value treatments like everolimus that can be given when limited options exist once their disease becomes resistant to endocrine therapy, and because it may delay the need for chemotherapy and its associated side-effects," said Professor Carole Longson MBE, director of the centre for health technology assessment at NICE.

"The committee concluded that everolimus with exemestane is effective in delaying the growth and spread of breast cancer and, with the revised patient access scheme, is a cost effective use of NHS resources".

Around 1,500 patients would be eligible for treatment with the drug, according to the Institute.

Xalkori recommendation
Pfizer's Xalkori (crizotinib) is now being recommended as a second-line treatment option people with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer that has a specific mutation, known as anaplastic lymphoma kinase-positive.

The drug is already available on the NHS in the first-line setting for some lung cancer patients, but was previously turned down by NICE in the second-line setting because of "immature" evidence and uncertainty over survival gain.

Pfizer has now provided new data on the drug's use and further discounted its price, enabling the Institute to recommend funding its use on the NHS after initial treatment.

Xalkori's list price is £4,689 for 60 capsules, excluding VAT and the confidential discount agreed in the patient access scheme.