NICE backs Bayer’s Nexavar for routine use on NHS in England

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The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has released a Final Appraisal Document recommending Bayer’s Nexavar (sorafenib) for use on NHS England for the treatment of patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) who have a Child-Pugh grade A liver impairment and who have failed or are unsuitable for surgical or loco-regional therapies.

NICE recommends that sorafenib is to be taken twice a day, which equates to £128 ($166) per day per patient according to the list price. However, Bayer has agreed a commercial access agreement with NHS England that provides the drug at a discounted price, which is undisclosed. Sorafenib works by stopping the proteins on the surface of cells, inhibiting tumour growth, and it is estimated that the drug extends life by at least three months. 

Andrew Langford, chief executive of the British Liver Trust, said: “Treatment options for patients with advanced liver cancer have been very limited, but this decision will make sorafenib, which is currently the only approved pharmacological option for patients with hepatocellular carcinoma, more easily available and bring greater long-term certainty for patients. Evidence shows that outcomes for people with advanced liver cancer are particularly poor, so any increase in length of life is very important.” 

Amanda Cunnington, head of patient access, Bayer UK, said: “Sorafenib, funded through the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) has been the only option of advanced liver cancer patients in England. The new guidance from NICE now puts this funding on a more secure footing so patients and physicians in England will have routine access to a much needed standard of care.”

Out of 24 treatments in the CDF, 18 have been approved by NICE in either final or draft guidance. The remaining drugs are still in the process of being appraised, while no drug has received a final negative decision.