NICE ‘unable’ to recommend Alimta

NICE has revealed that, due to data uncertainties, it is unable to recommend Alimta (pemetrexed) for the maintenance treatment non-small-cell lung cancer.

The draft guidance has been issued for consultation and the manufacturer, Eli Lilly, now has an opportunity to consider and respond to comments made by the independent Appraisal Committee.

Lung cancer is one of the most common cancers in the UK, with around 38,000 people diagnosed every year. Maintenance treatment after first-line treatment is a new concept in lung cancer care and is not currently practised in the UK.

The goals of maintenance treatment are to prolong the period of remission after first-line chemotherapy and increase the likelihood of being able to receive second-line chemotherapy.

Dr Carole Longson, Health Technology Evaluation Centre Director at NICE, said: “In September NICE recommended pemetrexed as a first line treatment for non-small-cell lung cancer and we are disappointed not to have been able to recommend the drug as a maintenance treatment as well.

“The committee felt that there were many uncertainties in the data and analysis provided by the manufacturer. These uncertainties led the committee to conclude that, on current evidence, the cost of the drug related to the benefits it brings means that pemetrexed would not be a good use of NHS money.”

NICE’s preliminary recommendations are available for public consultation until 19 January 2010 at Comments received during the consultation will be considered by the Committee and the next draft guidance will be issued after this date.

Until NICE issues final guidance, NHS bodies have been advised to make decisions locally on the funding of treatments under appraisal.