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NICE may lift ban on cancer drugs


A ban on two life-extending kidney-cancer drugs may soon be lifted by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), with a further two also under consideration.

It is believed that Sutent, Nexavar, Avastin and Torisel – previously deemed by NICE to not provide good value for money – may benefit half of the 7,000 people a year diagnosed with the disease.

It is now believed that Sutent will be approved by NICE’s appraisal committee on 14 January. At least one more drug, probably Avastin or Nexavar, may also be approved.

The move follows reports that the drugs’ manufacturers have held talks with the Department of Health about a pricing system that might persuade NICE to approve their products.

Cost-share, under which the NHS pays only if a drug extends a patient’s life by an agreed time, is one suggestion.

At the same time, Pfizer has offered to cut the price of Sutent by 5% and provide a first course for free.

NICE rarely approves a drug that costs more than £30,000 a year per patient, although that limit might rise as a result of ongoing public consultation.

Pat Hanlon, of the charity Kidney Cancer UK, said: “All four are marvellous, brilliant drugs, which provide a way of treating people with a horrible disease.”

Copyright Press Association 2008


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