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New cancer drug wins NICE approval

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A new drug to prevent the crippling effects of cancer spreading to the bone has received the final green light making it available to NHS patients.

Denosumab, marketed as Xgeva, helps patients avoid complications such as bone fractures and spinal compression.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), which assesses the cost effectiveness of new treatments, has now published its final guidance on the drug.

It recommended denosumab as a treatment option for adults with advanced breast cancer and other tumours that have spread to the bone, other than prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer patients are normally prescribed other drugs called bisphosphonates to prevent bone complications.

If there are medical reasons why they cannot take bisphononates, they will also qualify for denosumab under the new guidance.

Professor Carole Longson, director of the centre for health technology evaluation at NICE, said: “Denosumab is a welcome addition to the current treatment options available for the people in whom it has been shown to be clinically and cost effective.”

Draft guidance on the drug was issued by NICE in August.

With the final guidance, the NHS in England and Wales now has a legal obligation to begin funding treatment with denosumab.

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