Hundreds of Irish cancer patients to access life-extending immunotherapy
Hundreds of cancer patients in Ireland might be able to benefit from the recommendation for the use of the breakthrough and potentially life-extending cancer immunotherapy, Opdivo® on the Irish health service This recommendation means that eligible patients with advanced melanoma, advanced kidney cancer and an aggressive blood cancer, classical Hodgkin lymphoma (cHL), can potentially benefit from nivolumab immediately.
In Ireland, 40,000 new cases of cancer are diagnosed each year, with one person dying from the disease every hour. Approximately 1,700 people were diagnosed with advanced melanoma, kidney cancer and cHL between 2012-2014 and 400 patients died between 2011-2013.
Kay Curtin of Melanoma Support Ireland said “These ground-breaking treatments will undoubtedly benefit patients, many of whom are struggling to survive this disease and are often from a younger age category to other cancers. As melanoma diagnosis rates have increased rapidly for some years in Ireland, these approvals will finally offer those with advanced disease, similar treatment options to our European counterparts, which is fantastic news for Irish patients.”
Nivolumab has an innovative mode of action that works by harnessing the ability of the immune system to fight cancer. Across a number of clinical trials in the indications approved today, nivolumab as monotherapy, and in combination with ipilimumab, has shown significant improvements in survival compared to standard therapies.
Additionally, in clinical trials supporting nivolumab, the medicine has generally been shown to have a favourable safety profile against its comparators, with patients experiencing relatively fewer serious (grade 3/4) treatment-related adverse events (AEs).
Treatment-related AEs were reported more frequently for the combination therapy than with either nivolumab or ipilimumab alone. Most select AEs were managed or resolved within 3-4 weeks. Benjamin Hickey, General Manager, Bristol-Myers Squibb UK and Ireland said, “This is an important milestone for cancer patients in Ireland. We are pleased that our continued collaboration with the HSE means Irish patients will have access to these life-extending medicines.
“However, there are other patients who are still waiting; for those with advanced forms of lung cancer, we are doing everything in our power to ensure they too can access nivolumab on the Irish health service.
We remain hopeful we will find a solution soon.”