Olaparib now available from start of ovarian cancer treatment

Ovarian cancer drug olaparib now available from beginning of treatment

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has approved a breakthrough ovarian cancer drug from the first round of treatment, for the first time in England.

Olaparib (Lynparza®) is one of a new generation of PARP inhibitors, which work by stopping cancer cells from repairing themselves.

Women who have advanced ovarian cancer, a mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes and have had one round of chemotherapy, could have access to olaparib. In the year ahead, 360 women in England could start to access the treatment.

This announcement makes olaparib the first PARP inhibitor available to this group of women from the first round of treatment. It will be available in this form on England’s Cancer Drugs Fund until 2023.

Olaparib had previously been available to a small number of women who have advanced ovarian cancer and a mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes, from after a third round of chemotherapy treatment.

According to Target Ovarian Cancer, around 6780 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer every year in England. 11 women die every day from ovarian cancer, and two thirds (66%) are diagnosed once the cancer has already spread (stage II-IV), making it harder to treat and more likely to come back.

Olaparib is significant because it could help women with ovarian cancer, who have very few different treatment options, to survive for longer.

Target Ovarian Cancer has championed better access to PARP inhibitors and was an expert witness on the NICE committee for olaparib, representing the views of women with ovarian cancer.

Annwen Jones, Chief Executive of Target Ovarian Cancer, said: “For the first time women with a BRCA mutation will be able to access this game-changing new generation of ovarian cancer drugs, the PARP inhibitors, from their first round of treatment.

“For many women this represents a long overdue improvement and we look forward to a future where all women diagnosed with ovarian cancer, regardless of BRCA status, have multiple treatment options.”