New guidance could prevent patients with a rare form of stomach cancer being prescribed a drug on the NHS, which campaigners say would be 'a devastating blow'.
NICE has ruled that the drug Sutent, which is prescribed for advanced tumours, should not be given to patients with advanced gastrointestinal stromal tumour (GIST) after apparently questioning the way clinical trial data was analysed in a submission from Sutent's manufacturer, Pfizer.
Around 900 people are newly-diagnosed with the cancer, which affects the soft tissue surrounding the digestive tract, each year, and it is thought that 1,500 people are living with the advanced form of the terminal cancer.
However, NICE has recommended that Sutent, which is also called sunitinib, should not be given as a second-line treatment for people with advanced GIST, which one oncologist says will 'deny patients the chance of extended good quality life'.
Dr Beatrice Seddon, consultant clinical oncologist at University College London Hospital, said that Sutent is given to patients who had stopped responding to another GIST drug, Glivec, also known as imatinib.
'This is a devastating blow to the GIST community,' she said. 'We know that patients will eventually stop responding to imatinib, and then sunitinib is their only option for further treatment.'