UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has rejected the use of Bristol-Myers Squibb’s (BMS) Opdivo (nivolumab) to treat National Health Service (NHS) patients suffering from advanced or metastatic non-squamous, non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

The drug has been rejected for use in adult NSCLC patients whose disease has progressed after prior chemotherapy.

University of Leicester thoracic medical oncology chair Dean Fennell said: "Lung cancer is the UK’s biggest cause of cancer deaths, and making new medicines available to NHS patients is a vital part of raising standards of cancer care and survival rates in Britain to the levels seen in other European countries.

"Nivolumab has the potential to provide increased long-term survival, compared with chemotherapy and with far less side effects.

"Nivolumab has the potential to provide increased long-term survival, compared with chemotherapy and with far less side effects."

"I hope that NICE will reconsider the value of this treatment and reverse its decision so that patients can benefit from nivolumab as soon as possible."

Nivolumab possesses a mode of action that harnesses the ability of the immune system to combat lung cancer and increase survival rates of the affected patients.

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A Phase III study revealed that nivolumab attained more overall survival rates in advanced, non-squamous, NSCLC patients whose disease has progressed after chemotherapy treatment.

BMS UK and Ireland general manager Johanna Mercier said: "BMS has offered a number of pricing proposals to NICE and the Department of Health, which we are confident provide value to the NHS in lung and for nivolumab uses in other cancers.

"Unfortunately, NHS lung cancer patients are still not able to access this potentially life-extending medicine.

"We hope that NICE and the Department of Health will recognise the potential of nivolumab to increase survival in cancer and we will continue to work with them to find an answer for patients and their families."

The guidance draft has been shared with consultees that include doctors, professional groups and patients.

The NICE Appraisal Committee will consider the feedback from these consultees to take a final decision on the rejection.