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NICE approves bone cancer drugs


The health watchdog has approved two bone marrow cancer treatments for use on the NHS, it has been revealed.

Certain patients suffering from multiple myeloma will have access to Thalidomide and Velcade (bortezomib), guidance from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) said.

In the UK every year up to 4,000 people are diagnosed with the disease with around 2,600 dying from it.

People who are unable to tolerate high-dose chemotherapy with a stem cell transplant will be given Thalidomide in conjunction with two other drugs, the guidance recommends.

Velcade is recommended in combination with the two drugs if the patient cannot tolerate Thalidomide.

According to NICE, most people with multiple myeloma are not able to withstand intensive treatment, such as high-dose chemotherapy with a stem cell transplant.

It said evidence from specialists had shown that although the treatment regime would differ for each person, Thalidomide would be appropriate in most cases when compared with Velcade.

“The evidence suggested that in terms of clinical effectiveness the two regimens were equivalent, but Thalidomide regimens were more cost effective than the (Velcade) regimen,” it said.

The average cost of Velcade per treatment cycle is £3,000 while the cost of Thalidomide is £2,100, according to figures from NICE.

Janssen-Cilag, which makes Velcade, said it planned to challenge the decision, which is subject to appeal.

Copyright Press Association 2010


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