Merck impresses NICE with Keytruda data—and discounts—cueing up a CDF switch

Merck impresses NICE with

After making headlines at this year’s American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting, Merck’s Keytruda had a big week on the other side of the pond, too. England’s cost-effectiveness gatekeepers at the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommended the drug in draft guidance for routine use as a treatment for previously untreated lung cancer. Previously, Keytruda was available for first-line use, but only for patients who applied for special funding through England’s Cancer Drugs Fund. Now, though—assuming the recommendation holds when NICE publishes final guidance later this month—about 1,800 patients per year will no longer have to jump through those hoops.

What changed minds at the cost watchdog? A couple of things. For one, new data showing the cancer-fighter could improve survival by 16 months over standard chemo for patients whose tumors bear protein marker PD-L1.

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