Cost puts NICE off Alimta

Alimta Eli Lilly’s Alimta (pemetrexed) has not been recommended in new draft guidance as a maintenance treatment option for non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

NICE recognised the effectiveness of the treatment but said the potential gain for patients is less than the NHS is being asked to pay for the drug.

A disappointed Sir Andrew Dillon said the Institute can only recommend treatments “which are both clinically and cost effective” for the NHS.

The Institute calculates that the average cost of the treatment is approximately £11,640.

Lung cancer is one of the most common cancers in the UK. NSCLC is the most common type of lung cancer and accounts for around 80% of all cases.

Alimta was being considered as a maintenance treatment option following induction therapy with the drug and cisplatin. It is already recommended as a first line treatment option for NSCLC and as a maintenance treatment option following platinum-based chemotherapy in combination with gemcitabine, paclitaxel or docetaxel.

“Alimta is already recommended as maintenance treatment following a different first line treatment,” said Sir Andrew Dillon. “However, in this case, as maintenance treatment following pemetrexed and cisplatin, although effective, the potential gain for patients is less but the cost to the NHS remains the same.

“It is disappointing not to be able to recommend pemetrexed in our preliminary guidance.”