UK – ICR urges change as NICE rejects Keytruda plus chemotherapy

The Institute for Cancer Research (ICR) has called for change in the way immunotherapy drugs are researched and evaluated after the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) handed MSD’s Keytruda plus chemotherapy a rejection.

Although NICE reversed a draft rejection of Keytruda (pembrolizumab) and has now recommended it for use on the NHS as a first-line treatment for head and neck cancer in PD-L1-positive patients, ICR is ‘disappointed’ that a combination of Keytruda plus chemotherapy combination was not also approved.

Researchers are concerned that while there is a group of patients who should receive single treatment with Keytruda, there is also a subgroup of patient who can now access the immunotherapy but for whom the drug may actually be associated with worse survival outcomes than standard chemotherapy…