The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has today published draft guidance which does not recommend the breast cancer drug eribulin (Halaven, Eisai) for routine use on the NHS as a second-line treatment for patients with advanced breast cancer.

Monday 27 November 2017      Health information

Eribulin is licensed for treating patients with locally advanced or metastatic breast cancer that has become resistant to other similar medicines. This appraisal looked at eribulin for patients who have had only one line of chemotherapy, with the drug meeting NICE’s criteria to be considered a life-extending treatment at the end of life.

The clinical trial results show that eribulin increases overall survival by an average of 4.6 months compared with capecitabine, but doesn’t increase progression free survival. However, the committee felt that while the survival extension was significant, it was unclear whether this survival benefit was due to eribulin, or to effective treatments given afterwards.

Samantha Nicklin, Assistant Director of Policy and Campaigns at Breast Cancer Now, said:

“That eribulin cannot offer women with metastatic breast cancer a new second-line therapy option is very disappointing news, particularly for patients with ‘triple negative’ breast cancer, who – despite recent advances for other subtypes of the disease – still have very few treatment options.

“Around 15% of all breast cancers are ‘triple negative’, which tend to be more aggressive, and studies have shown eribulin to have particularly important benefits for this patient group. With still no targeted treatments being available for this type of breast cancer these women remain in desperate need of more effective and more bearable alternatives to standard chemotherapy.

“Eribulin currently offers a vital third-line option for patients and is highly valued by clinicians, giving women with incurable breast cancer precious extra time with their loved ones, as well as a better quality of life than existing options. However, the continued uncertainty in the clinical data means it unfortunately cannot be deemed cost-effective for the NHS at an earlier point in time for patients.”