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UK's NICE backs Pfizer, AstraZeneca's Ibrance-Faslodex combo for breast cancer

The U.K. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommended a combination of Pfizer Inc.'s Ibrance and AstraZeneca PLC's Faslodex for use on the Cancer Drugs Fund to treat certain patients with breast cancer who have undergone hormone therapy.

The drug price watchdog previously approved Novartis AG's Kisqali and Eli Lilly and Co.'s Verzenio for patients with advanced breast cancer that are hormone receptor-positive and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2, or HER2, negative.

Ibrance, or palbociclib, belongs to a class of drugs called CDK4/6 inhibitors, which work by blocking a person's estrogen production, preventing the substance from stimulating the growth of certain cancers.

The Ibrance-Faslodex combination is another treatment option for up to 3,300 women who have had hormone therapy — treatments that add, block or remove hormones for cancer control instead of directly targeting cancer cells, according to NICE. These patients would otherwise receive a combination of Novartis' Afinitor, also called everolimus, and Pfizer's Aromasin, or exemestane.

NICE said its committee considers that the combination has the potential to be cost-effective despite uncertain estimates and recommended the use of the drug on the Cancer Drugs Fund to collect more evidence.

The combination is already available to National Health Service patients in England after the publication of NICE's draft recommendation in November 2019.

Ibrance was first approved in 2015 to treat women with breast cancer. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration expanded the approval in April 2019 to include men with a subtype of the disease. The FDA issued a warning in September 2019 that the drug may cause rare but severe inflammation.