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Bowel cancer drug “too costly”


A bowel cancer drug has been rejected by the health watchdog for being too costly.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) said the cost of Avastin (bevacizumab) was too high for the extra benefit it provided.

It also turned down a risk-sharing scheme from the drug’s manufacturer Roche.

Avastin can help patients with advanced bowel cancer which has spread to other organs, usually the liver and lungs.

The drug costs almost £21,000 per patient and an estimated 6,500 people per year could be eligible for the drug.

Clinical data submitted by Roche to the watchdog shows it can typically offer patients an extra six weeks of life when added to the chemotherapy drugs capecitabine and oxaliplatin.

The study showed patients typically live 21.3 months compared with 19.9 months with chemotherapy alone.

Data also suggests the trio of drugs means 78% of patients see their liver tumours shrink to such a degree that they are eligible for potentially life-saving surgery.

The latest guidance from NICE is subject to consultation and appeal.

Sir Andrew Dillon, chief executive of NICE, said: “We have recommended several treatments for various stages of colorectal cancer, including cetuximab for the first-line treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer.

“We are disappointed not to be able to recommend bevacizumab as well but we have to be confident that the benefits justify the considerable cost of this drug.”

Copyright Press Association 2010


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