Life-extending ovarian cancer drug licensed for use in the UK

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There has been exciting news today with the announcement that niraparib, a new drug for women with ovarian cancer, has been approved for use in the UK.  

This medicine is exciting because it provides more choices for the 85% of women with ovarian cancer who will experience recurrence after treatment. It’s the first parp inhibitor that’s effective in both women with a BRCA gene mutation, (that causes 15-20% of ovarian cancers), and women without genetic alterations. 

The drug prolongs ‘progression free survival’ – that means that the period of time where a woman is without disease is longer. In a landscape which can be bleak, it provides a much-needed option for more women.   

For women with a BRCA mutation, the average relapse time increased from five and a half months to 21 months when compared with chemotherapy alone. For women without this genetic mutation, niraparib doubled the length of time before recurrence. If you have recurrent ovarian cancer and are still sensitive to platinum chemotherapy, this treatment could be relevant to you.   

So, what happens next?  The drug has been licensed for use, but now has to be approved by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and the Scottish Medicines Consortium, before it can be made available on the NHS.  Ovarian Cancer Action is calling for these bodies to approve this medicine urgently so that more women can benefit.  We’re hoping that the drug will be reviewed early in the new year, so we’ll be keeping you posted.