Will Maintenance Sell In NSCLC? Experts Weigh Costs Against Benefits
Longer-term "maintenance" therapy may be the new frontier for oncology products as cancer evolves into a chronic, manageable disease – a shift that will provide benefits for patients and the pharmaceutical industry. But as cancer drug costs continue to skyrocket and cost-effectiveness discussions become more commonplace, that transition may not come as smoothly as industry would like.
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U.K. drug cost watchdog NICE has cleared Glaxo’s Revolade and Alcon's Jetrea but rejected Lilly's Alimta as maintenance therapy in a subgroup of lung cancer patients.
FDA has set a high bar for maintenance indications, which allow longer term use. With overall survival data, Eli Lilly’s Alimta (pemetrexed) has met that hurdle and is now approved for longer use in first-line nonsquamous non-small cell lung cancer.
In their review of Merck/Ariad’s Taltorvic (ridaforolimus) for sarcoma patients with stable disease, members of FDA’s Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee suggested the nature of maintenance therapy necessitates that efficacy be more robust, and toxicities less of a concern, than in the treatment setting.