AZ appeals against NICE rejection of Tagrisso in untreated lung cancer
AstraZeneca is appealing against NICEs decision not to recommend funding for its lung cancer drug Tagrisso (osimertinib) in untreated patients with epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutations. In final draft guidance, NICE said it had rejected regular NHS funding for Tagrisso, because the survival benefits compared with standard treatment such as AZ’s older drug Iressa (gefitinib) are unclear in first-line non-small cell lung cancer. Tagrisso has been the driving force behind AZ’s sales recovery after a steep patent cliff – it generated $630 million in Q1 alone and is the company’s top selling drug after first approval in 2015 in a more advanced form of the disease.
NICE had been considering results from the FLAURA trial, comparing Tagrisso with Roche’s Tarceva (erlotinib) and AZ’s Iressa (gefitinib) in untreated patients. Patients in the trial had either exon 19 deletion (del19) or exon 21 (L858R) mutations, accounting for around 90% of EGFR mutations. NICE said it noted progression-free survival was 18.9 months on Tagrisso compared with 10.2 months on standard care. Overall survival data is not mature but data gathered so far show that Tagrisso will likely extend this too. However NICE is concerned that data so far do not show the size of treatment benefits, and that AZ’s economic model does not fully capture the benefits of subsequent treatments.