The UK National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has issued technology appraisal guidance (TAG) for AstraZeneca’s Lynparza (olaparib) to treat women with platinum-sensitive relapsed (PSR) BRCA-mutated (BRCAm) high-grade serious ovarian cancer.
The drug is recommended for use in patients who have had three or more courses of platinum-based chemotherapy and who meet the European licence criteria.
NICE noted that clinical commissioning groups, NHS England and local authorities are required to comply with this recommendation and ensure that olaparib treatment is funded and accessible within 90 days.
Olaparib is the first targeted therapy for BRCA-mutated ovarian cancer and the first NICE-approved medicine for the disease for more than a decade.
According to the clinical trials, olaparib is claimed to increase the time it takes for the disease to progress and the time to further chemotherapy cycles.
University College London cancer institute medical oncology professor and primary investigator of the pivotal olaparib clinical trial Jonathan Ledermann said: "The positive NICE guidance for olaparib represents a turning point for how women with ovarian cancer and a BRCA mutation are treated by the NHS in England.
"These patients with recurrent ovarian cancer tend to have a poor prognosis and until now their treatment options have been limited to conventional chemotherapy and surgery. I urge NHS England to implement this guidance immediately as there are many patients who are waiting for treatment and who could benefit significantly."
In the UK, more than 4,000 women die each year due to ovarian cancer, which is a serious and life-threatening condition.
AstraZeneca UK oncology business unit head Greg Rossi said: "AstraZeneca is delighted that NHS patients in England will soon have access to the first targeted therapy for ovarian cancer.
"Olaparib is a product of the British science community and it is only right that patients in this country should have the opportunity to benefit from treatment. We hope that NHS England will issue its commissioning policy as soon as possible to allow funding and rapid patient access to olaparib."
So far, the most common side-effects reported by patients taking olaparib were mild to moderate, did not cause the patient to stop taking treatment, and included nausea, fatigue, vomiting and anaemia.
Image: AstraZeneca headquarters, London, UK. Photo: courtesy of AstraZeneca.