NHS funding for Ipsen’s Cabometyx is now being recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence to treat kidney cancer.

In a Final Appraisal Determination, the cost watchdog concluded that the drug can be used as a first-line treatment for adults with advanced renal cell carcinoma (RCC).

Cabometyx (cabozantinib) is currently routinely available on the NHS as a treatment for adults with advanced RCC following prior vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-targeted therapy.

Earlier this year, the drug’s scope was expanded in Europe to include treatment-naïve adults with advanced RCC, on the back of data showing patients given Cabometyx had a median progression free survival of 8.6 months versus 5.3 months for those treated initially with sunitinib (Pfizer’s Sutent), marking a 52 percent reduction in the hazard for progression or death.

However, NICE initially rejected Cabometyx in draft guidelines, saying that while clinical trial evidence shows that the drug extends the period of time until cancer progresses compared with current treatment, the evidence on whether it boosts the overall survival “is less certain”.

This decision to reimburse the drug in this setting “is very positive news for advanced renal cell carcinoma patients that don’t have time to wait and can now access cabozantinib earlier in their treatment pathway,” said Matthew Hickling, medical director, Ipsen UK.

“This reimbursement decision reflects the importance of our partnership with NICE who recognise that there are still limited treatment options available for people who have advanced RCC, a cancer which still has such a poor prognosis with a high unmet need.”

Kidney cancer is the seventh most common cancer in the UK, with around 12,500 new cases of the disease every year.