THE NHS is to offer a world-leading drug that halves the chance of the deadliest cancer from returning.

The treatment, called Osimertinib, will be rolled out by NHS England after a trial proved successful.

The drug is used on non-small cell lung cancer patients whose tumours have a specific type of genetic mutation, after they have had surgery.

It catches the tumour early, stopping it developing and potentially increasing the chance of surviving the disease.

In a trial of the drug - the first of its kind - around nine out of 10 patients treated, remained alive and disease-free after two years – compared to more than four in ten who hadn’t received the new therapy.

Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer death in the UK, accounting for one in five of all cancer deaths.

Around 100 patients in England with this rare form of the disease will initially have access to Osimertinib.

More people are then expected to benefit from the treatment this year.

Sir Simon Stevens, NHS chief executive, said: “The NHS has continued to offer new treatments rapidly throughout the pandemic, to improve care for patients, including a package of Covid-safe treatments for cancer.


“This new drug, which halves the chance of lung cancer returning, is the latest potentially life-saving drug deal landed by the NHS in England, following agreements that have led to sight loss treatment for children and cystic fibrosis therapy brought to frontline patient care.

“The NHS message to anyone experiencing symptoms such as a cough for three weeks or more is clear – do not delay, help us to help you by coming forward for care – the NHS is ready and able to treat you, often with the most cutting-edge treatments available anywhere in the world.”

Osimertinib was discovered and developed in the UK and is already used to treat NHS patients with other forms of advanced lung cancer.

NHS England, NICE and AstraZeneca have reached an agreement to enable early access to the drug for early-stage lung cancer patients in England on a budget-neutral basis to the NHS while NICE undertakes its appraisal.

The deal follows the first drug licence issued by the MHRA as part of the Orbis programme – an international partnership between medicines regulators in the UK, U.S., Australia and others, set up to speed up the approval process for promising cancer treatments, and hoped to benefit other patients in England this year.