Life-extending lung cancer drug Nivolumab finally approved by the NHS

The late British writer AA Gill was denied the drug last year as it was not yet approved by the National Health Service

AA Gill was denied Nivolumab

A lung cancer drug which was denied to British food critic AA Gill has been approved for some patients with his type of cancer.

AA Gill died aged 62 last December after being diagnosed with what he proclaimed the ‘full English’ of cancers – lung cancer which has spread to his neck and pancreas with tumours that were inoperable and unsuitable for radiotherapy.

AA Gill had chemotherapy but could not access the immunotherapy drug nivolumab because it was not approved on the NHS.

Scotland already offers nivolumab to people with advanced disease who have also tried chemotherapy.

England’s drugs watchdog, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), had originally said nivolumab was too expensive, reported the BBC.

In new draft guidance, NICE has approved nivolumab through the fast-track Cancer Drugs Fund while more evidence is gathered on its cost-effectiveness.

During his final weeks living with terminal cancer, AA Gill described nivolumab as “more life spent on Earth – but only if you can pay”.

Gill said he had been denied a drug – costing about £5,000 a month – that may have helped him live “considerably” longer and was the weapon of choice for “every oncologist in the First World”.

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