The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) have issued an interim decision not to recommend the pembrolizumab plus axitinib combination as a first-line treatment for advanced kidney cancer, despite it’s proven effectiveness at prolonging the life of kidney cancer patients.

In their Appraisal Consultation Document (ACD) released this week, NICE stated that there was uncertainty about the long-term benefits of the pembrolizumab plus axitinib combination. NICE also made the decision the combination is too expensive to be prescribed for NHS patients. Stakeholders are able to comment on the ACD by the first week in March, before NICE releases its final appraisal decision in the summer.

Pembrolizumab is an immunotherapy and axitinib is a vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) which act by boosting the immune system and interfering with the growth of the tumour, respectively. The combination has been shown to extend progression-free and overall survival compared with standard treatment with sunitinib. However, overall survival data remain immature.

The combination was approved for untreated advanced RCC by the European Medicines Agency in September 2019 and is available in the USA and Canada.

KCSN will be responding to NICE’s decision not to recommend the combination for first-line treatment of advanced RCC.

If you have any concerns about this disappointing news, please get in touch with Rose or Julia at the KCSN.

Read more in the Pharma Times here

See the pembrolizumab/axitinib ACD on the NICE website here