The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has overturned a previous decision against the routine NHS use of Merck KGaA and Pfizer’s Bavncio (avelumab). NICE has recommended immunotherapy as a maintenance treatment option for eligible adult patients with locally advanced metastatic urothelial carcinoma (UC), also known as bladder cancer.
The decision marks avelumab as the first and only monotherapy for the first-line maintenance treatment of adult patients with locally advanced or metastatic UC who are progression-free, following platinum-based chemotherapy.
Lydia Makaroff of Fight Bladder Cancer commented: “Until now, there was no maintenance treatment available on the NHS in England, Wales and Northern Ireland for advanced bladder cancer after chemotherapy. This positive decision may have the potential to give hundreds of people with terminal bladder cancer more good quality time with their loved ones.”
Following successful appeals by the Merck/Pfizer Alliance, patient groups and healthcare professional organisations, the treatment has been recommended as a maintenance treatment option from 7 April to all eligible patients on the NHS in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
“We are very pleased that NICE’s revised decision to recommend avelumab as a maintenance treatment option for advanced bladder cancer means that eligible patients now have access to this much-needed treatment,” said Dr Stuart Hill, medical director, Merck KGaA UK and Ireland. “The Merck/Pfizer Alliance is particularly grateful for the support of both the patient and clinical communities who came together during the process to highlight the need for physicians to be able to initiate patients on this innovative treatment approach.”
Bladder cancer is the eleventh most common cancer in the UK and the tenth most common cause of cancer deaths. UC accounts for 90% of bladder cancer cases and has poor survival outcomes. Bladder cancer has a high recurrence rate of over 74% and a one-year survival rate of only 36% for patients with a stage four diagnosis.