Immunotherapy drug pembrolizumab (Keytruda) now available on the NHS in England
This new immunotherapy drug was initially rejected in January 2020 but has now been approved by NICE - who estimate that around 950 people will be eligible for the treatment.
Pembrolizumab will now be a treatment option for patients who have relapsed and cannot be treated with surgery, or their cancer has spread. The drug aims to boost the patient's immune system to recognise and kill cancer cells by blocking a molecule called PD-1.
Professor Kevin Harrington, Professor of Biological Cancer Therapies at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and Consultant Clinical Oncologist at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, led the UK arm of the KEYNOTE-048 trial looking at the benefit of pembrolizumab as a first-line treatment for advanced head and neck cancer, said, "There is clear evidence that pembrolizumab has survival benefits for patients with head and neck cancer, and it is also a much kinder treatment than intensive chemotherapy."
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