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Published on 5 March 2009

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NICE bans stomach cancer treatment


A life extending drug will not be made available on the NHS to people with the rare stomach cancer gastrointestinal stromal tumour (GIST).

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has ruled that Sutent (sunitinib) cannot be given as second-line treatment for patients who have stopped responding to Glivec (imatinib).

The cancer, which attacks the soft tissue surrounding the digestive tract, is newly diagnosed in about 900 people a year in the UK.

Pfizer, which makes Sutent, has said that it will provide additional clinical trial data analysis to a NICE committee hearing due to be held next month.

The company has said that Glivec loses its effectiveness in half of GIST cases after two years, and that Sutent delays tumour progression by a further five months.

Meanwhile, Dr Beatrice Seddon, a consultant clinical oncologist at University College London Hospital, said NICE`s decision is “a devastating blow to the GIST community”, and that Sutent vital for patients who had stopped responding to Glivec.

Copyright Press Association 2009


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