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NICE defends decision to reject breast cancer drug

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The rejection of Tyverb (lapatinib) for use by the NHS against an aggressive form of breast cancer has been justified by NICE.

It says that while it accepts the drug may offer a significant extension to life, it is not a cost-effective use of health service resources.

It follows a request last year by NICE’s appeal panel that the appraisal committee should re-consider lapatinib under the institute’s end of life (EOL) guidance.

This was specifically developed to help the small number of patients who have only months to live gain access to new medicines that are not generally available.

The request was backed by additional data from maker GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) demonstrating that the drug meets all three of the EOL criteria.

Says Dr Alison Jones, medical oncologist at the University College London Hospital and the Royal Free Hospital: “I am disappointed for all the women who would have benefited from lapatinib on the NHS.

“I have witnessed myself that lapatinib can extend the lives of these women. We are now left with very few effective treatment options in cases where Herceptin has stopped working.”

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