UK patients with advanced kidney cancer have been boosted by a possible U-turn by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence to allow Pfizer's Inlyta to be used on the National Health Service.

NICE has issued new draft guidance recommending Inlyta (axitinib) as an option for treating adults with advanced renal cell carcinoma after failure of treatment with a first-line tyrosine kinase inhibitor - Pfizer's own Sutent (sunitinib) or GlaxoSmithKline's Votrient (pazopanib - or a cytokine. This follows a previous negative recommendation, which was appealed by Pfizer, the Royal College of Physicians, James Whale Fund for Kidney Cancer and Kidney Cancer UK.

Commenting on the draft guidance, Carole Longson, NICE's Health Technology Evaluation Centre Director noted that following the appeal, the agency issued "an updated scope and matrix to include sunitinib and pazopanib as comparators in addition to best supportive care for the post-cytokine sub-group". Pfizer has also submitted more information on how well Inlyta works in this group of patients and "after careful consideration of this evidence, including the proposed patient access scheme, the independent appraisal Committee concluded that axitinib should be recommended as a treatment option for adults with advanced kidney cancer in specific circumstances".

Ben Osborn, head of Pfizer Oncology UK, said that while the news is positive, "the UK still lags behind other European countries in the use of innovative cancer medicines. We hope that this marks a change in approach from NICE towards more pragmatic assessments of medicines, which will lead to NICE saying ‘yes’ more often so that patients in England, Wales and Northern Ireland can benefit from innovative cancer medicines".

Until final guidance is issued, NHS bodies should make decisions locally on the funding of Inlyta.