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Aiming for the Mutations

Simon Stevens, the chief executive of the National Health Service in England, is to call for tumor-agnostic drugs to be "fast-tracked" into clinic use, the Times reports.

In particular, the Times says two drugs — larotrectinib and entrectinib, which target genetic mutations that crop up in cancers, rather than a specific type of cancer — could be on the market within months there. In a speech to the NHS Confederation conference, Stevens is to push the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence to speed up its process for giving these drugs the OK, according to the Times.

"The benefits for patients, in particular children, of being able to treat many different types of cancers with one drug is potentially huge, helping them to lead longer, healthier lives," Stevens is to say, according to the Telegraph.

It adds that he is also to call for children to be among the first to benefit from these tumor-agnostic drugs and for the drugs to be priced fairly.

"These new cancer drugs absolutely represent the kind of exciting innovation the NHS should be looking to fast-track," Ian Walker, Cancer Research UK's director of clinical research, tells the Times. "Whilst this approach may not work in all cases, where the weight of clinical evidence supports the approach this could open up opportunities for cancer treatment that we wouldn't have had 20 years ago."