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NICE rejects breast cancer drug

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A drug to treat advanced breast cancer has been rejected for use on the NHS as trials showed it failed to improve survival rates among patients.

NICE noted the high cost of bevacizumab (Avastin) of at least £118,000 per quality-adjusted life year - the extra year of healthy living a new drug could provide patients.

The watchdog rejected use of the drug in combination with taxane for those whose breast cancer had spread to other parts of their body.

NICE said it had looked at evidence from the manufacturer, Roche, which “did not show bevacizumab to significantly improve or extend the lives of breast cancer patients”.

While, on average, bevacizumab could slow the growth and spread of the tumour for five-and-a-half months longer than standard therapy, this did not translate into improved overall survival rates, said NICE.

The drug only extended patients’ lives by about an extra seven weeks.

Sir Andrew Dillon, chief executive of NICE, said: “The clinical trial results for bevacizumab were disappointing in that they were unable to prove definitively that the drug could extend the lives of patients with metastatic breast cancer over and above currently available treatments.”

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