No NHS availability for cancer drugs
A drug which can delay the growth of advanced ovarian cancer should not be widely available on the NHS, NICE has said
Campaigners said they are “extremely disappointed” after the healthcare regulator did not recommend bevacizumab, marketed as Avastin, in draft guidance.
The charity Target Ovarian Cancer said that the drug, which starves tumours of blood, offered a “rare glimmer of hope” for women with the disease.
A spokeswoman said that the drug is the first new treatment which shows any promise in 20 years.
Clinical trials have shown the drug can delay progression of the cancer for several months.
Ovarian cancer is known as the “silent killer” because often it is not discovered until an advanced and deadly stage.
Each year almost 7,000 women in the UK are diagnosed with the disease and more than 4,300 die from it.
Bevacizumab is already an approved treatment for a number of different cancers including bowel, breast and kidney cancer. It works by preventing the growth of new blood vessels that feed tumours.
But NICE said the data submitted by manufacturer Roche was not suitable to properly assess the clinical effectiveness of the drug.
A spokeswoman also said that the treatment, which could cost £2,500 a month per patient, is not “cost effective” when compared to existing treatments.
NICE chief executive Sir Andrew Dillon said: “Although it was acknowledged that bevacizumab, when used in combination with paclitaxel and carboplatin, appears to provide benefit to some patients by delaying the spread of their cancer, it was unclear whether this translated into an overall survival benefit.
“There was no evidence to show that the clinical benefit of the treatment justifies its cost, when compared to existing treatments - an important factor to consider, especially as the NHS has finite resources.”
Frances Reid, director of public affairs and communications at Target Ovarian Cancer, said: “Avastin is a rare glimmer of hope for women with advanced ovarian cancer, so we are extremely disappointed that women are likely to continue to have limited access to it.
“Having to make applications for a drug through the Cancer Drugs Fund adds time and stress for women, at an already hugely challenging period for them.
“Target Ovarian Cancer believes that barriers to approval can be removed, and is ready to work with the pharmaceutical company and Nice to achieve a positive outcome for women with ovarian cancer, which is surely an aim they share.”
The final guidance on the drug is to be published next year.
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