The health watchdog has said a lack of evidence surrounding a cancer drug designed to stop rare tumours returning has resulted in it being refused for use on the NHS.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) said in its latest appraisal of Glivec (imatinib), that there was a lack of evidence to show whether the drug extended life expectancy.
It added that it was unclear as to how long Glivec should be used for in treatment.
The drug is already used as a treatment for patients with gastrointestinal stromal tumours (GIST) that cannot be removed by surgery.
But the latest study was aimed at investigating whether it could be given to patients whose tumour had been removed and who are at risk of the cancer returning.
NICE also expressed concerns about resistance to the drug developing, saying this could render the drug ineffective if a patient needs it when their cancer has come back.
The watchdog said it would review the situation in 2011 after more evidence is published.
About 900 people in the UK develop a GIST each year, mostly between the ages of 50 and 60.
Andrew Dillon, chief executive of NICE, said: “At around £19,500 per patient per year, this is an expensive drug, and we need to be more confident about how well it works and what its side-effects are before we consider recommending it for use in the NHS.”
Copyright Press Association 2010