The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has now published final guidance recommending the drug’s use for some patients with kidney cancer, that is as an option for treating advanced renal cell carcinoma (RCC) in adults after vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) targeted therapy.

Earlier this year, NICE's independent appraisal committee concluded that the additional benefits of Cabometyx (cabozantinib), when compared with current care, "were highly uncertain as the meta-analysis evidence presented by the company was unreliable.”

A second appraisal also showed that Cabometyx was associated with an incremental cost effectiveness ratio of more than £60,000 per QALY gained compared with Novartis’ Afinitor (everolimus), and thus well outside the bounds of what is normally considered value for money for the NHS.

Ipsen then provided new analysis comparing cabozantinib with medicines that are more often used in the NHS, and also lowered the cost of its drug in with a confidential patient access scheme, allowing the committee to recommend it as a cost-effective treatment for people who have advanced RCC.

Commenting on the decision, Ewan McDowall, vice president of Commercial Operations, Ipsen UK & Ireland, said: “At a time where the NHS is under increasing pressure we have taken our responsibility one step further by implementing an industry first of its kind: a managed access programme throughout the UK that provides cabozantinib free of charge for patients for the duration of their treatment. To date nearly 300 patients in the UK have benefited from cabozantinib through this Ipsen initiative, whilst the NICE process took place. We are delighted that now any eligible patient in the UK can benefit from cabozantinib. These patients don’t have time to wait.”

“There are limited treatment options available for people who have advanced kidney cancer, so I am very pleased that the new evidence submitted means we can recommend cabozantinib,” noted Professor Carole Longson, director of the Centre for Health Technology Evaluation at NICE.

RCC is the most common type of kidney cancer, responsible for around 12,000 new cases every year in the UK, or around 33 per day. Despite rates increasing each year, only 12 percent of patients with metastatic RCC will survive for longer than five years after diagnosis, highlighting the urgent need for new treatment options.

It is thought that around 1,000 people with kidney cancer will be eligible for treatment with Cabometyx in England and Wales.

Ipsen picked up rights to the drug from Exelixis in March last year under deal worth up to $855 million plus potential royalties.