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NICE rejects bowel cancer drug


NICE has turned down a bowel cancer drug for use on the NHS, despite pressure from campaigners for it to be given the green light.

Trials have shown Avastin (bevacizumab) can help patients with advanced bowel cancer that has spread to other organs, usually the liver and lungs.

NICE said it had looked at options for prescribing the drug, including a risk-sharing scheme from the manufacturer, Roche.

However, it concluded Avastin, which would cost almost £21,000 per patient with an estimated 6,500 people eligible per year, was too expensive to justify the extra benefit it offers.

Clinical data submitted by Roche to the watchdog indicated the treatment typically offer patients an extra six weeks of life when added to the chemotherapy drugs capecitabine and oxaliplatin.

The study showed patients lived on average 21.3 months compared with 19.9 months with chemotherapy alone.

Data also suggests the trio of drugs means 78% of patients see their liver tumours shrink to such a degree that they are eligible for potentially life-saving surgery.

The latest guidance from NICE is subject to consultation and appeal.

Sir Andrew Dillon, chief executive of NICE, said: “We have recommended several treatments for various stages of colorectal cancer, including cetuximab for the first-line treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer.

“We are disappointed not to be able to recommend bevacizumab as well, but we have to be confident that the benefits justify the considerable cost of this drug.”



Readers' comments (4)

  • Perhaps if Roche slashed the vast profits made from this drug many would benefit.

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  • I agree with the above, pharmaceutical companies make a ridiculous amount of money. My father had a bowel cancer operation this year and tried chemo for a few weeks with dreadful results, so he stopped and appears very well. If a drug can be made more cheaply, surley this has to be reviewed at some point?? to enable longer lives of the ones we love.

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  • The National Money Saving unit that is NICE does not look at valus for money. Many of the drugs they deny people will allow those people to contribute to society in many ways which may include returning to work and paying taxes.
    Denying people care for any reason other than clear defined clinical reasons/risks is unacceptable.

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  • > Perhaps if Roche slashed the vast profits made from this drug many would benefit.

    The unfortunate patients with bowel cancer would benefit. However, since new drugs, such as Avastin, cost on average £ 0.3 - 0.5 billion and take around 10 years to develop, Roche need to charge high prices to recoup their huge investment. Without this we would repidly see the end of the development of any new drugs.

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