The United Kingdom’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has issued a final appraisal determination (FAD) that recommends Bavencio (avelumab) for treating adults with metastatic Merkel cell carcinoma (mMCC).
Avelumab is recommended for routine NHS use in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland for treating metastatic mMCC in adults, only if they have had one or more lines of chemotherapy for metastatic disease. Avelumab is recommended for use in England within the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) for treating mMCC in adults only if they have not had chemotherapy for metastatic disease and the conditions in the managed access scheme are followed.
Access to avelumab for previously untreated mMCC through the CDF applies in England. Patients across Wales will also be able to access the medicine through the New Treatment Fund, which funds all treatments with a positive recommendation from NICE (and the All Wales Medicines Strategy Group), including those in the CDF with draft recommendations.
Health boards and Velindre NHS Trust have 60 days to implement a recommendation following the publication of a FAD and once a Commercial Access Agreement (CAA) has been signed. In Scotland, the outcome of an assessment by the Scottish Medicines Consortium is awaited, with a decision expected in the first half of 2018.
The NICE recommendation is not intended to affect treatment with avelumab that was started in the NHS before this guidance was published. People having treatment outside this recommendation may continue without change to the funding arrangements in place for them before this guidance was published, until they and their NHS clinician consider it appropriate to stop.
Avelumab’s inclusion in the CDF for a time-limited period, while the first-line mMCC trial data are maturing, is NICE’s preferred option, after which the clinical and cost-effectiveness of avelumab in the first-line setting will be re-evaluated by NICE. The decision by NICE to include avelumab for first-line use in mMCC in the CDF recognises the clinical benefit and patients’ unmet need in this setting.
Patients with mMCC have a very poor prognosis, with fewer than half of patients surviving more than one year and fewer than 20 percent surviving beyond five years. There are thought to be approximately 70 new cases of mMCC in England every year, although the accuracy of this figure is difficult to determine due to the rarity of Merkel cell carcinoma.
Data show that the incidence of MCC is rising, possibly due to an ageing population or increased UV exposure. MCC exhibits aggressive clinical features, including frequent lymph node involvement and early metastases.
While earlier-stage MCC can be generally managed with surgery and radiotherapy, treatment options for mMCC are severely limited. Until the U.K. launch of avelumab in November 2017, the only licensed treatment option for mMCC was cytotoxic chemotherapy, which has limited efficacy and is not generally well-tolerated.
The preferred standard of care for mMCC, according to the NCCN guidelines, is clinical trials, but other immuno-oncology drugs are also stated as options.
Filed Under: Drug Discovery