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Published on 25 October 2007

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NICE reverses ruling on Velcade

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The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has confirmed that bone cancer sufferers will now be able to get access to a life-extending drug on the NHS.

The organisation had initially rejected Velcade (bortezomib) for use on the NHS in England and Wales.

But it reconsidered its position after cancer charities Myeloma UK, Cancerbackup and Leukaemia CARE, argued the decision had been based mainly on cost.

In June NICE issued a draft recommendation which stated Velcade would be available for multiple myeloma sufferers in England and Wales who responded well to it.

The move came after the drug’s manufacturer, Millennium, said it would refund the NHS when the treatment did not work or had a minimal response.

Andrew Dillon, NICE’s chief executive, said: “The scheme proposed by the manufacturer and amended by NICE will ensure that patients at first relapse, who have had one prior therapy and who have had or are unsuitable for a bone marrow transplantation will get the chance to see if the drug works well for them.”

Almost 4,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with myeloma every year and there are some 20,000 people with the cancer in the UK at any one time.

Copyright © PA Business 2007

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