Institute of Cancer Research embraces olaparib recommendation

Vital AstraZeneca therapy may transform lives of people with certain breast and prostate cancers

The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) has welcomed the ‘life-changing’ decision by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) to recommend AstraZeneca’s olaparib.

The targeted therapy has been developed for use among NHS patients with both prostate cancer and early-stage breast cancer.

The decision concerns treatment availability for forms of breast and prostate cancer caused by faulty BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes, offering the chance of longer, healthier lives for thousands of patients.

Access to olaparib for these specific groups of patients will follow standard treatment, ultimately helping prevent cancers from returning and improving overall chances of survival.

Meanwhile, men in England and Wales with advanced, incurable prostate cancer, who have BRCA1/2 mutations in their tumours – and whose cancer has progressed in spite of hormone therapy – will also have access to the treatment. Critically, this access has the potential to delay progression of disease, maintaining life for longer.

The ICR experts were grateful to NHS England and manufacturer AstraZeneca for establishing an agreement following complex negotiations over how olaparib would be priced according to different groups of cancer patients.

Professor Andrew Tutt, professor of breast oncology at The ICR, reflected: “This is an amazing moment in a long scientific journey – starting with the discovery of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes more than 25 years ago, to ICR scientists identifying how to target a weakness in these cancers ten years later, all the way through to the completion of the phase 3 clinical trials which led to today’s recommendations.”

He added: “It is immensely satisfying to know this work will now allow patients within the NHS to join the many thousands of patients globally whose lives are transformed by this work.”

Professor Johann De Bono, professor in experimental cancer medicine at The ICR Research, concluded: “Olaparib is a precision medicine which extends the lives of men with advanced prostate cancer who have mutations in their BRCA genes.

“It is tremendously exciting to see the NHS in England and Wales make olaparib available to men suffering from these diseases. Olaparib is an important example of how understanding the underlying genetics of patients, and their tumours’ genomics, can be used to design highly targeted precision medicines.”