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NICE slammed for cancer drugs stand


The health watchdog has been criticised for not allowing patients access to four life-extending kidney cancer drugs.

Calls for using bevacizumab (Avastin), sorafenib (Nexavar) and temsirolimus (Torisel) to be the first option to treat advanced kidney cancer or cancers which have spread around the body were rejected by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).

Sorafenib and sunitinib (Sutent) were rejected even as secondary treatment options.

As a result appeals by Roche, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, and the James Whale Fund for Kidney Cancer, along with a joint appeal from the Rarer Cancers Forum and Macmillan Cancer Support, were not supported.

Welsh health minister Edwina Hart had approved all the drugs for use in Wales in January.

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Uncertainty prevails over how the NICE’s stand, involving England and Wales, will affect patients there.

Professor Peter Littlejohns, clinical and public health director at NICE said that the body had recommended the use of sunitinib as first option for renal cancer in March 2009.

“The evidence to support the use of the other first and second line treatments isn’t strong enough to justify using NHS funds, which could be used for other cancer treatment programmes or in other treatment areas,” he said.

Copyright Press Association 2009

National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence

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