NCCN recommends Novocure’s Optune for newly diagnosed glioblastoma

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network is recommending Novocure’s ($NVCR) Optune to treat newly diagnosed glioblastoma in combination with temozolomide, a standard chemotherapy.

The recommendation from the group, which is an alliance of 27 of the world's leading cancer centers, is seen as a boost to Novocure’s efforts to speed reimbursement for use of the device and spur a broader U.S. commercialization of Optune. 

A panel of network members designated Optune when used in conjunction with temozolomide as a category 2A treatment for newly diagnosed glioblastoma (GBM) for patients with good performance status. The group had included Optune in its guidelines as a category 2B treatment option since 2015.

In 2015, Novocure won an expanded indication for a 2011 FDA approval of Optune to treat newly diagnosed glioblastoma in combination with temozolomide.

“We believe the inclusion of Optune as a standard treatment option for newly diagnosed GBM serves as further validation of this noninvasive cancer therapy that has been shown to extend survival in newly diagnosed GBM,” Dr. Eilon Kirson, chief science officer and head of R&D at the company, said in a statement.

Doctors at more than 410 cancer centers in the U.S., as well as 600 medical institutions globally, have been certified to prescribe Optune to newly diagnosed and recurrent glioblastoma patients, the company said.

Jersey Isle-based Novocure has said it plans to broaden the use of Optune to treat other solid tumors, where the device has already shown preclinical utility across the board. Just in the solid tumor indications in which it has ongoing or completed clinical trials, there are about 350,000 new patients diagnosed annually in the U.S.

If successful, Novocure could see billions more in revenue. The company was bringing in an average of about $14,700 a month of Optune use, which is typically used for several months per patient to extend lifespan.

In May, the company presented data that showed early evidence suggests that its Tumor Treating Fields technology may be useful in combination with a newer class of anti-cancer drugs, PD-1 inhibitors.

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