Ipsen reacts to NICE’s Cabometyx verdict

Company disappointed by institute’s failure to recommend thyroid cancer therapy for specific patient group

Ipsen has expressed its disappointed regarding the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s (NICE) preliminary guidance which does not recommend Cabometyx – also known as cabozantinib.

The treatment involves patients with previously-treated differentiated thyroid cancer (DTC) which is unsuitable for radioactive iodine and has progressed after systemic treatment.

The outlook remains good for most DTC patients, but there are a few patients with advanced disease where radioiodine does not work, who then require chemotherapy treatment. If their disease progresses while on NICE recommended first-line chemotherapy treatment, however, there are currently no treatment options in England and Wales unless they have targetable genetic alterations.

For the majority of these patients who do not have genetic alterations the prognosis is very poor and – unlike patients in Scotland – they have been without a second-line treatment option recommendation since 2018.

Guy Oliver, general manager at Ipsen UK and Ireland, reflected: “This preliminary decision by NICE is disappointing for all those living with DTC in England and Wales. Treatment options are extremely limited for people living with DTC and we believe cabozantinib addressed a significant unmet need in this patient population.

“The decision is also surprising due to the fact that cabozantinib fell within NICE’s cost-effectiveness range, especially as it was acknowledged by the NICE committee that there is an unmet need in England and Wales for an effective second-line treatment. It is yet another example of how our health systems in the UK are not fit for purpose and the need for reform is now critical to ensure innovative medicines for cancers are made available to those who have no other treatment options.”

He added: “We will be responding to the NICE consultation and remain committed to working collaboratively with NICE and the NHS to achieve a positive outcome for people living with DTC.”

Every year, there are 3,865 new thyroid cancer cases in the UK and DTC is the most common form –accounting for around 90-95% of all diagnosed cases. Furthermore, females are more likely to be diagnosed with thyroid cancer, making up 72% of the thyroid cancer cases in the UK, while DTC tends to affect people of working age. The average age of diagnosis is between 45 and 49 years.

NICE will go ahead to a public consultation on the preliminary recommendation in advance of the final recommendation, which is expected later in the year.

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