Home » Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer » Lutetium Lu 177 dotatate (Lutathera®) – PRRT

Lutetium Lu 177 dotatate (Lutathera®) – PRRT

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prrt updateBackground

There’s a lot of questions doing the rounds on forums and messages about the approval of Lutathera (PRRT) in USA, Europe and other places.  This is not a place just for one particular country, I want a place to review what is happening globally given my following.  In many countries, however, I’m dependant on feedback from patients in those countries.

Short PRRT Primer

For those who are still not sure what it’s all about.  This is a non-surgical treatment and is based on the use of somatostatin receptors to attract a ‘radiopeptide’. It is normally administered intravenously.  The radiopeptide is a combination of a somatostatin analogue and a radioactive material (radionuclide).  As we already know, somatostatin analogues are a NET cell targeting protein, so when combined with the radionuclide, it binds with the NET cells and delivers a high dose of targeted radiation to the cancer while preserving healthy tissue.  Simple!

PRRT will not work on all NETs and not everyone will suited to this treatment. For this treatment to be successful, you must have somatostatin receptors in your tumors. Success rates are not 100%.

The results from the NETTER-1 trial which has led to formal approval in Europe and USA can be found here.

Understanding the terminology is half the battle in understanding the latest radionuclide developments. I’ve included Ga-68 PET scans as the term ‘Theranostics‘ is becoming a commonly used theme.

LUTATHERA is the radionuclide ‘mix’ for use in Peptide Radio Therapy Treatment (PRRT).  You may also see this drug called ‘Lutetium’ or ‘Lu-177 dotatate’, or just ‘Lu-177’ on its own. Yttrium 90 (Y-90) is a  radionuclide also used in PRRT. 

NETSPOT is not PRRT but is the radionuclide mix for use in Gallium 68 (Ga-68) PET diagnostic scans and was recently approved in USA.  SOMAKIT TOC is essentially the European equivalent of NETSPOT and is approved in Europe.

Together they form a ‘theranostic pair’. Theranostics is a joining of the words diagnostics and therapy. Theranostics is apt as together (NETSPOT / SOMAKIT TOC and Lutathera), both target NETs expressing the same somatostatin receptor, with Lutathera intended to kill tumor cells by emitting a different kind of low-energy, short-range radiation than that of the diagnostic version.

Moreover, thanks to the theranostic approach that nuclear medicine allows, AAA’s NETSPOT/SomaKit TOC products will be able to determine when Lutathera is the appropriate treatment.


LATEST HEADLINE – Next approval due – UK.

Latest news from UK.  20 Feb 2018. NICE confirm PRRT will be included in the technology appraisal committee meeting on 11 April 2018.   They don’t expect to publish the outcome until 25th July 2018 at the latest.  CLICK HERE

Timeline of interest in the UK decision

ALL7 Dec 2017.  Novartis and Advanced Accelerator Applications (AAA) Announced that Novartis is buying AAA and the process has been completed.  AAA is now a Novartis Company.   Read here  This will not have any effect on approval timelines.

EUROPE – 29 Sep 2017.  AAA Announced that the European Commission (EC) has approved the use of Lutetium Lu 177 Dotatate (Lutathera®).  Despite the treatment being used for over 10 years, this is apparently the first ever approval of the therapy.  EU constituent countries are now free to fund and implement services. In the UK, now awaiting action by NICE (see announcement below 3rd and 11th Aug).   Read here

UK – 11 Aug 2017.  AAA responds to UK drug appraiser National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) negative recommendation.  Read here

UK – 3 Aug 2017.  Currently, NICE (the UK equivalent of FDA) are not recommending Lu-177 Lutathera based on cost.  This is only a draft recommendation and another announcement is expected end Sep 2017.  More to follow when known.  This is a blow for patients in England.  Read here

UK – 2015.  PRRT was removed from the Cancer Drugs Fund by NHS England

The situation is confusing – hasn’t the therapy has been in use for some time?

Of course, this therapy has been in use in Europe and some other places for some time but to be honest, they have been on a limited scale and never formally approved by national drug agencies.  Despite its extensive use, the EU approval in 2017 was actually the very first approval of PRRT anywhere in the world. For example, in UK, it was used for some time for those in need but was removed from routine availability through a ‘slush fund’ formally known as the Cancer Drugs Fund – to cut a long story short, the funding source was cut off, although there are still ways of obtaining the treatment pending formal acceptance by the NHS (certain criteria apply).

In the meantime, I constantly see stories of patients travelling to Switzerland, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, Great Britain and others; mostly as their own cost.   However, it does indicate one thing, there is a huge unmet need in that many patients do not have access to the best treatments in their own country. I see this daily through many private messages.

The next section of this article will cover each region, indicating where PRRT can be obtained (as far as I know). It is not designed to indicate whether this is through public or private facilities (this will depend to too many factors beyond the reach of this article).

Regional Updates

The aim of this section is to update on a regional basis in order to inform an international community of followers and readers.

Europe (EU associated countries)

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) “market authorisation” received a positive indication on 20th July followed by EC approval on 29 Sep 2017.   The positive indication reads “Lutathera is indicated for the treatment of unresectable or metastatic, progressive, well differentiated (G1 and G2), somatostatin receptor positive gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumours (GEP NETs) in adults”. Of Course, the decision to fund the drug will be with national approval organisations.  Whilst I’m sure there are many more, well-known centres have been making PRRT available for some years:

Netherlands – Rotterdam Treatment Centre – click here

Sweden – Department of Endocrine Oncology Uppsala University Hospital – click here

Switzerland – University Hospital Basel, Radiology & Nuclear Medicine Clinicclick here

Germany – Zentralklinik Bade Berkaclick here

UK – Royal Free Hospitalclick here

I’d be interested to hear from other countries in Europe with their list of centres.

United Kingdom

In UK, despite the EC approval on 29 Sep 2017, NICE (drug approvals agency) are currently not recommending PRRT (Lu-177) due to what looks to me like cost grounds.  One theory is that this is a metaphor for price negotiation between NHS and AAA.  This is a  particularly controversial issue for UK as the drug was removed from routine use (Cancer Drugs Fund) in 2015.  Why wait in UK?  There are ways to get access to PRRT via different funding sources. Ask your specialist because this possibility is unfortunately not very well publicised.  PRRT is funded in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The NICE approvals process only covers England.  See headline update above.


PRRT was approved in USA on 26 Jan 2018. The approval is for the treatment of somatostatin receptor positive gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (GEP-NETs), including foregut, midgut, and hindgut neuroendocrine tumors in adults. CLICK HERE – (full guidance will be updated when received)

The extended access program is on hold but these locations should be ahead of the game in terms of provision, notwithstanding insurance and provision of sufficient nuclear material.


PRRT is only available at a few cancer centres in Canada. It can only be used with special approval from Health Canada or by taking part in a clinical trial


Australia seems to be ahead of the game or that is what I sense when I read output from there.  There’s a good section on the Australian effort – click here.

New Zealand

These guys have had to fight to get some progress on the provision of PRRT.  Currently New Zealanders have to go to Melbourne Australia for treatment – almost 50 New Zealanders with NETs are currently raising tens of thousands of dollars to pay for treatment in Australia because the life-prolonging treatment isn’t available locally. But this could change in 2018.  On 21 Nov 2017, Unicorn Foundation New Zealand announced that Pharmac, the New Zealand government agency that decides which pharmaceuticals, have recommended that PRRT be funded for patients with medium priority for the treatment of unresectable or metastatic, well-differentiated NETs (irrespective of primary site) that express somatostatin receptors. This recommendation will be discussed at the PTAC meeting Feb 2018 and I’ll update when known.


South Africa:

Middle East, Asia and the Far East

Turkey – Istanbul, Dr.Levent Kabasakal.

IsraelHadassah Medical Center, Jerusalem – click to read

India – Mahatma Gandhi Cancer Hospital, Visakhapatnam. Recently started radionuclide therapy. Although only currently available privately, some patients have been sponsored by the companies that they work for. Point of contact is Dr. K. Raghava Kashyap.

I’ve been assured by CNETS India that many locations have PRRT capability.

Pakistan – check out this article – click here

Singapore – Singapore General Hospital and National University Hospital.  

Philippines – St. Luke’s Medical Center, Global City, Taguig, Metro Manila.

South America

Chile – Instituto Oncológico Fundación Arturo López Pérez, Santiago

What’s next for NETs PRRT?

  1. two radiopeptides together;
  2. radiopeptides in conjunction with other chemotherapies (check out my article PRCRT);
  3. repeated administrations of the radiotherapies;
  4. other radionuclide-peptide combinations.
  5. increasing the number of indications for this therapy, including other disease targets;

Thanks for reading


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  1. Ionela Grigoras says:

    Hi Ronny,
    Please let me know if this treatment is availble in Romania – I can’t find anything about it expect for a document on Lutatheras website that it’s translated in Romanian.
    Thank you so much

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pamela Gredicak says:

    Just wanted to let you know that The James Cancer Hospital at Ohio State University Medical Center ran 5 people through a clinical trial of PRRT in December. They mixed their own amino acid compound up because the normal source, Puerto Rico, can’t currently produce it. They felt that their own amino acid mix causes less nausea and vomiting. Since PRRT was finally approved by the FDA, The James has set up their first group to go through the first round of treatment on March 13-14. I am in that group. They had to go through an appeals process just to get the Gallium PET scan approved. It was approved immediately once my oncology team spoke with a radiation oncologist at Aetna. I find it difficult to believe that they would pay for the PET scan they have denied for over a year if they weren’t going to cover the costs of the PRRT. I honestly thought I was going to die before this was approved in the USA. I have been stage 4 PNETS for over 4 years and I have been off all treatments since I had such an adverse reaction to the chemo drugs in August. They did start Lanreotide shots back up but only because the Carcinoid Syndrome was getting out of control. It has done little to nothing to slow the growth and spread of the cancer. So, I am hoping that March 13-14 will bring me good luck and shrinkage of the tumors because I am in horrible pain 24 hours a day. I have found nothing that controls the pain and allows me to sleep for more than 2 hours. I am putting all my eggs in the only basket left and hoping for a great response to the Gallium PET scan and the PRRT.


    Liked by 1 person

  3. Tatyana says:

    We are in the U.S. and waiting for 177 Lu-Dotatate to finally become available for patients here. Unfortunately, nobody could tell us when it would happen even though the physicians are aware of the FDA approval. This is very frustrating. I wish I knew who to contact with regards to the length of the wait. I fear the bureaucracy is going to prolong the time for this drug to get to patients.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ronny Allan says:

      I’m hearing this a lot. It was anticipated that there would be a gap between approval and deployment. This happens a lot with different drugs and in many countries. I think the approval on 26 Jan 2018 was very well publicized and everyone was 99% positive it would happen. It seems that many establishments have not done some very low risk planning by putting in some resources to make sure the gap was as small as possible. There may also be some issues with supply of the drug but not heard that formally. I feel for people who really need this treatment and the clock ticks on. In UK, people would write to their Member of Parliament, I suspect that’s either your Congressman or Senator – not sure how that works.


  4. Ronny Allan says:

    Reblogged this on Ronny Allan – Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer and commented:

    BREAKING NEWS for email followers


    • Bob Hearn says:

      reading about PRRT. NET small intestine, metastisis to liver. Not pancreas. Ga-68 scan with uptake in May, surgery in June. Ocreotide (Sandostatin) 30-mg since May (9 injections to date). Follow-up Ga-68 scan in September shows no progression. Serotonin (serum) now well within normal levels. What now? Is there a checklist for PRRT candidates to consider? Need to continue Sando, hope for future tumor shrinkage, reduction in Serotonin discharge?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ronny Allan says:

        I don’t think there is a “checklist” other than the wording of the approval. If “stable”, then perhaps keep it in reserve for signs of progression. Does your doctor have a view?


  5. Oryx says:

    I was diagnosed with Neuroendicrine cancer in May 2015. I was then treated with Sandostatin LAR every 4 weeks but the cancer kept on spreading. I had my second Lutathera treatment last week. The PET-scan, however, showed that the tumors “looks slightly more intense but with no significant increase in size.” Is this normal? What is the maximum number of treatments that can be done safely? My white cell- and blood platelet count is very low.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Ronny Allan says:

      As I understand it, the max Lutathera (PRRT) is 4. However, i know people in Europe who have done more including a lady on 11! Personalised dosing is being looked at and is already in place in certain European centres. I have no idea what they mean by ‘intense’, perhaps ‘hypervascular’. As for white cell and platelets, unsure of this, better to ask your doctors. Good luck for your treatment.


  6. My Oncologist counsels to forget PRRT as long as Octreotide works. i feel fine and liver tumors are even shrinking. My only concern is that if Octreotide and PRRT target the same receptors then when/if Octreotide stops working, PRRT potential success will also decline.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Ronny Allan says:

      In UK you won’t get it unless you other treatment isn’t working or tumors are progressing. Some people are suggesting it could be a first line treatment. I suspect private providers might hope so he said cynically 😃 I’m with you, I hope it’s there when I actually need it


  7. Desi says:

    Thank you, Ronny, as always.
    I travel to Singapore for PRRT and the PET dotascan. I’m grateful it is only around 3 hours away by airplane from my country. For now, only one hospital there does PRRT, but by the latter part of the year, another hospital will have it as well.
    I’ve had 1 session so far. Do any of you know if it’s too early to tell through a PET dota or some other scan if PRRT is actually working for me? I have PNET Glucagonoma with liver mets. Thanks.


    Liked by 1 person

  8. edebock says:

    I had my 8th Lutetium (Lutathera) treatment last week. It has been available in Canada since 2010, though only used in two locations that I know of. I am fortunate to live a 2 hour drive from one of them. I’m waiting for the results of the latest post-treatment scan, but up to this point, there there has been no spread of disease since diagnosis and my existing tumours have been shrinking. I feel 100% well and I’m able to lead a pretty normal life. It frustrates me that this treatment isn’t readily available to NETS patients everywhere.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Josh M says:

      Lutathera – is a brand name of Lu177 Dotatate – NETSPOT and Somakit are brand names as well. NETSPOT and SOMAKIT are different drugs (one is Dotatate and one is dotatoc) Other companies make other version of PRRT drugs (Lutate for instance)


      • Ed V Ost says:

        NETSPOT and SOMAKIT are diagnostic equivalents to Lutathera – isotope is switched from Gallium-68 for PET scan in NETSPOT and SOMAKIT to Lu-177 (Lutathera) for therapy


    • Simon Pedro Arroyo says:

      Hello hi i would love to hear your results with this treatment i live in usa and it is really frustrating that this is not available here, if it works i might as well travel to Canada to get this treatment i have the same disease now im doing fine with the sandostatin every four weeks but is just to control the symptoms so if you don’t mind please let us know if this worked for you, thank you and good luck…


      Liked by 1 person

      • edebock says:

        I’ll have my next CT scan on August 30 and as long as that goes well, another treatment around the beginning of November. By all means, check my blog for updates around those dates. If there’s any other information I can help you with, please let me know!

        Liked by 1 person

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