The drug vemurafenib (trade name Zelboraf) has been approved since February 2012 for the treatment of advanced melanoma (cancer of the skin cells that produce the dark pigment, melanin). It can be an option for adults whose melanoma cannot be removed by surgery or has formed secondaries (metastases) and in whose cancer a change (mutation) has occurred in a certain gene (BRAF-V600). The German Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG) has examined the added benefit of the drug pursuant to the Act on the Reform of the Market for Medicinal Products (AMNOG). According to the findings, major advantages in terms of overall survival are accompanied by major potential harm in the form of side effects. Overall, there is an indication that vemurafenib offers considerable added benefit.
Vemurafenib in comparison with dacarbazine
The Federal Joint Committee (G-BA) has specified the drug dacarbazine as the appropriate comparator therapy. One study that compared vemurafenib directly with dacarbazine was available for the benefit assessment. This is a randomized and open-label study, i.e. patients were randomly assigned to one of the two treatment groups and both they and their doctors knew which of the two drugs was used in each case.
Longer survival means major added benefit
IQWiG always assesses a drug with a view to patient-relevant outcomes such as survival (mortality), symptoms and complications (morbidity) as well as quality of life. The study provides an indication that vemurafenib can prolong life. While half of the patients who received dacarbazine died after less than 10 months, in the vemurafenib group this was the case only after more than 13 months. The differing course of the two survival curves provides an indication of a major added benefit of vemurafenib.
Pain was the only outcome recorded in the study in relation to morbidity. There were, however, no statistically significant diff
|Contact: Dr. Anna-Sabine Ernst|
Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care