1. ITV Report

Ovarian cancer pill that can prolong life licensed for UK

Niraparib is a PARP inhibitor. Credit: PA

A pill that holds back ovarian cancer and has the potential to prolong life has been launched in the UK.

Niraparib is a PARP inhibitor belonging to a class of drugs that target cancers with defective DNA repair systems.

Research has shown that pill can buy valuable months of time before the disease returns after chemotherapy.

In some women, with an inherited BRCA gene mutation, the time to relapse was increased from 5.5 months to 21 months compared with chemotherapy alone.

Niraparib was also shown to help women without a BRCA mutation to a lesser degree, doubling the length of time before recurrence.

The drug is now licensed for use in the UK but is yet to be assessed for free availability on the NHS.

"Niraparib is the first treatment of its class licensed to delay the progression of ovarian cancer following platinum-based chemotherapy, regardless of BRCA status,” said Professor Jonathan Ledermann, from the University College London Cancer Institute.

"This represents a critical milestone in the management of ovarian cancer. Access to effective and tolerable medicines is sorely needed and the hope is that niraparib will be available in the NHS as quickly as possible."

Each year around 7,400 women in the UK are diagnosed with ovarian cancer and 4,128 die from the disease. Roughly 85% of patients will experience recurrence after treatment.