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UK recommends Bristol-Myers' Opdivo for head and neck cancer after price cut

Bristol Myers Squibb Ltd.'s Opdivo has been recommended to treat people with head and neck cancer by the U.K.'s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence after the U.S. company agreed to a price cut and to provide further evidence as to the immunotherapy's effectiveness in squamous cell carcinoma.

Opdivo, also known as nivolumab, will be provided to patients on the National Health Service via the Cancer Drugs Fund, or CDF, after the New York-based drugs group agreed to provide it at an undisclosed discount to the standard price of £1,097 per 100-gram vial. Opdivo will be available to those whose cancer has spread to other parts of the body and who have not responded to chemotherapy within six months.

"Nivolumab is an innovative drug that continues to draw attention, but its clinical evidence for some types of cancer can be uncertain," said Carole Longson, a professor and director of the Centre for Health Technology Evaluation at NICE. "I am pleased that the company has worked with us and NHS England to develop a managed access agreement and that we have found a way to provide for patients despite these uncertainties."

Some 10,000 cases of head and neck cancer are diagnosed in the U.K. every year, 900 of whom are expected to receive nivolumab via an intravenous infusion every two weeks.

Positive data showing Opdivo's efficacy was unveiled in a number of studies at the recent ESMO 2017 Congress in Madrid, notably its use in non-small cell lung cancer and cancers of the skin and kidney. NICE said it is evaluating Opdivo in a number of other indications.