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U-turn as NICE approves Sutent kidney cancer drug

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A U-turn by the drugs watchdog NICE means kidney cancer patients in England could soon have their lives extended by months through the use of Sutent, a previously rejected course of treatment

Sutent (sunitinib), which is currently available to patients with advanced kidney cancer in Wales, has now been recommended by NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence).

The drug, along with similar treatments Avastin (bevacizumab), Nexavar (sorafenib) and Torisel (temsirolimus), were rejected for use on the NHS in advice published last year.

The decision caused outrage among charities and patient groups, with campaigners complaining kidney cancer sufferers were only left with the option of taking interferon - to which many people do not respond.

Continuing its rejection of the three other drugs, NICE has now revised its guidance and recommended that Sutent should be approved on the NHS in England, though the guidance is still in a draft stage and is subject to consultation.

The medicines do not cure advanced kidney cancer but can extend a person's life by a matter of months.

Earlier this month, the Welsh Government announced that all four drugs would be made available to people in Wales. It is thought prescribing the drugs will cost£600 a week per patient.

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