NICE fails to back two breast cancer drugs

 NICE has failed to recommend GSK’s Tyverb (lapatinib) or Roche’s Herceptin (trastuzumab) with aromatase inhibitors as a first line treatment for a particular type of breast cancer in final draft guidance.

The decision is based on uncertainties over the overall survival benefits compared to existing treatments of both medicines and the high cost of the treatments.

Sir Andrew Dillon, Chief Executive of NICE, said that while the two have been shown to reduce the growth and spread of breast cancer the extent of overall survival extension “appears to be small or difficult to quantify”.

Final guidance on the appraisal is now expected in June.

The guidance only advises the use of the drugs alongside aromatase inhibitors as a first line treatment option to delay the growth of advanced breast cancer that has spread and reacts with oestrogen or progesterone and has high levels of HER2.

Alongside the clinical benefits, NICE also raised concerns around the cost effectiveness of both products. GSK estimates that the most plausible incremental cost effectiveness ratio (ICER) for Tyverb is likely to be around £74,400 per QALY gained. Roche estimates the most plausible ICER for Herceptin to be around £51,000 per QALY gained – both far in excess of the £20,000-£30,000 NICE typically deems to be a cost effective use of NHS resources.