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New cancer drugs given NHS go-ahead


NHS patients will be given access to two new treatments for lung and stomach cancer, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has announced.

In a deal with pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca, patients will receive the first two months of treatment with Iressa (gefitinib) free with the health service paying a one-off £12,200 fee for the remainder of the course regardless of its length.

NICE said Iressa may be suitable for some patients suffering from lung cancer that have undergone genetic mutation.

NICE has also approved Xeloda (capecitabine) for patients suffering from advanced stomach cancer.

Dr Carole Longson, health technology evaluation centre director at Nice, said Iressa, which is taken in tablet form, will allow patients to carry on with normal daily life without disruptive hospital treatment.

“Lung cancer is one of the most common cancers in the UK, with around 38,000 people diagnosed every year,” she said.

“Non-small cell lung cancer is the most common type of lung cancer, accounting for around 80% of all cases.

“Nice has already recommended a number of treatments for this condition and we are pleased to add gefitinib as an option for patients and their clinicians to consider.

“Gefitinib offers an advantage because it is taken in tablet form, can be taken at home, and would allow patients to carry on with normal daily activities.”

Copyright Press Association 2010

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