New data persuades UK cost body to back Lilly drug

* NICE backs Alimta as lung cancer maintenance treatment

* Changed view follows additional analyses from Lilly

LONDON, April 1 (Reuters) - Eli Lilly's LLY.N lung cancer drug Alimta has been recommended for use on Britain's state health service as a maintenance treatment, after a change of heart by the national health cost board.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) -- which backed Alimta, or pemetrexed, as a first-line treatment for non-small-cell lung cancer in September -- had said in December that maintenance use did not represent a good use of funds.

But Peter Littlejohns, clinical and public health director at NICE, said on Thursday agency experts had changed their minds in the light of additional analyses provided by Lilly that addressed data uncertainties about the value of the drug.

Maintenance treatment after first-line treatment is a new concept in lung cancer care and is not currently practised in Britain.

The latest draft guidance from NICE adds that people who have received Alimta in combination with cisplatin as first-line chemotherapy cannot receive the Lilly drug as maintenance treatment. (Reporting by Ben Hirschler)