The U.K.'s health-care watchdog said in final draft guidance Thursday that it is recommending the use of Roche Holding AG's (ROG.VX) Tarceva as a treatment option for advanced-stage lung-cancer patients.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, known as NICE, decides what medicines should be used in the U.K.'s publicly-funded National Health Service. It said the drug--whose chemical name is erlotinib--is a cost-effective use of NHS resources.
NICE, which has already recommended AstraZeneca PLC's (>> AstraZeneca plc) Iressa, or gefitinib, for non-small-cell lung cancer, said that while there isn't any trial data directly comparing the two drugs, clinical specialists say the drugs are "very similar and equally as effective."
"We are pleased to be able to recommend another treatment option for this stage of the disease," said NICE Director Carole Longson.
The watchdog said its decision to back the drug came after it requested more information about it from the Swiss drug maker.
Roche wasn't immediately available for comment.
NICE said the draft guidance is now with consultees, who have the opportunity to appeal against it.
-By Marta Falconi, Dow Jones Newswires; +41 43 443 8043; [email protected]