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HomeNewsRevolutionary 'Death Star' Targeting Lung Cancer Drug Available on the NHS

Revolutionary ‘Death Star’ Targeting Lung Cancer Drug Available on the NHS

A revolutionary life-extending drug has received approval from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) making it available on the NHS for patients with lung cancer.

Following an early access agreement made with the drug’s manufacturer the new first-of-its-kind innovative treatment Sotorasib (Lumykras, Amgen), which has taken more than four decades to develop, will from today be available for eligible patients with lung cancer.

NICE said: “Over 500 people in England are eligible to receive this treatment in 2022, which is the first active new technology to come through the Innovative Licensing and Access Pathway (ILAP) and receive a positive recommendation from NICE.”

NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard enthused: “It is fantastic news for hundreds more patients and their families that they will now be able to receive this first of its kind treatment thanks to another deal struck by the NHS.” She added that 600 people eligible for the “cutting edge” treatment would benefit from the drug every year. 

‘Death Star’ Genetic Mutation Targeted

NICE explained how lung cancer is the third most common cancer in the UK, with over 48,000 new cases diagnosed each year, and “KRAS is the most commonly mutated gene in lung cancer”.

Non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) accounts for around 85% of all lung cancers and KRAS G12C is the most commonly mutated gene in NSCLC, occurring in 12% of NSCLC tumours in the UK. This means around 1 in 8 lung cancer patients will have this lethal mutation of the KRAS gene.

There were previously no targeted treatment options for the KRAS G12C mutation and a poor prognosis for patients.

The genetic mutation, dubbed the ‘death star’ by doctors and scientists because of its spherical appearance and impenetrable nature, is targeted by Sotorasib, which binds with the KRAS G12C mutation, making it inactive, and stopping cell division and cancer growth.

As a once a day tablet it can be taken at home, making treatment more convenient for patients and reducing the need for hospital appointments. It is also expected to offer a better and longer life than standard chemotherapy could, while also producing fewer side effects, boosting patients’ quality of life.

The current treatment for NSCLC is platinum-based chemotherapy and/or immunotherapy and Sotorasib is being recommended as a second-line treatment for patients with the KRAS G12C gene mutation of non-small-cell lung cancer who have progressed on, or are intolerant to, platinum-based chemotherapy and/or immunotherapy.

Proven to Prevent Cancer Growth – Extending and Improving Life

Helen Knight, programme director in the Centre for Health Technology Evaluation at NICE, said: “We are determined to continue providing people with early access to innovative treatments, such as Sotorasib, which has the potential to not only extend the lives of those with the KRAS G12C gene mutation of non-small-cell lung cancer but improve their quality of life.”

“Results from trial data suggest that, after platinum-based chemotherapy, Sotorasib, which is the first targeted treatment for the KRAS G12C gene mutation, increases the time before the cancer gets worse and how long people live compared with current treatments,” she added.

NHS England said that Sotorasib has been “proven during trials to prevent lung cancer from growing for 7 months”.

NHS patients in England were the first in Europe to benefit from the drug in September through an early access agreement made with the manufacturer, with around 100 patients having already received the treatment. 

NHS clinical director for cancer Peter Johnson said: “It is very exciting to see this ground-breaking treatment coming into use after 40 years of research on this important target, to directly help patients with lung cancer that carries this particular mutation.”

Ms Knight pointed out: “While Sotorasib cannot be recommended for routine use in the NHS at this stage it is being recommended for use in the Cancer Drugs Fund so that further direct comparative data, long-term evidence and information around cost effectiveness can be collected and reassessed by NICE in the future.”

NHS England commented how the drug could also represent a major breakthrough in treatments for some of the world’s other deadliest cancers, including pancreatic and colorectal cancers.

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