NICE has recommended a new once-a-day capsule for people with some forms of ovarian, fallopian tube and peritoneal cancer.

Niraparib (Zejula) is recommended for people whose cancer has relapsed and have a BRCA mutation and who have had two courses of platinum-based chemotherapy. Niraparib is also recommended for people with these forms of cancer who do not have a BRCA mutation and who have had two or more courses of platinum-based chemotherapy.

Over 400 people with some forms of ovarian, peritoneal, or fallopian tube cancer will now have routine access to the treatment.

The recommendation has been made after further evidence was gathered to assess its clinical and cost-effectiveness. The additional evidence gathered found that niraparib improves how long it takes for the cancer to get worse and may also extend life.

The 20th cancer treatment to go through the Cancer Drugs Fund

For people without a BRCA mutation, clinical evidence showed the average time it took for the disease to progress was over nine months with niraparib and almost four months with placebo, while for people with a BRCA mutation it took over 20 months for the disease to progress with niraparib and almost six months with placebo. Results of a naive comparison to estimate relative effectiveness of niraparib compared with routine surveillance are uncertain.

Jenniffer Prescott, programme director in the centre for health technology evaluation at NICE, said: “Following the introduction of new arrangements for the Cancer Drugs Fund in 2016, we have been able to recommend managed access for a significant number of treatments within the Fund. Niraparib is the 20th treatment that has completed this process and I am delighted we are able to recommend it for people with these forms of cancer.

“The Cancer Drugs Fund has played a pivotal role in getting innovative treatments to people who need it most, and gives an opportunity  to gather vital evidence on the clinical and cost-effectiveness of those treatments.

“People with these forms of fallopian, peritoneal and ovarian cancer have a poor prognosis and limited treatment options available to them, particularly if they do not have the BRCA mutation. Today’s recommendation provides hope that they can have a longer and an improved quality of life.”

Niraparib is a type of anti-cancer medicine called a poly adenosine diphosphate-ribose polymerase (PARP) inhibitor. PARP is an enzyme that helps cells repair damaged DNA.  By blocking this enzyme, PARP inhibitors prevent the DNA of cancer cells being repaired, preventing them from growing and spreading.