People with digestive tumours who cannot take current medication are to be offered sunitinib.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommended the drug for patients with gastro-intestinal stromal tumours (GISTs) who have not responded to the first line treatment imatinib.
Most GISTs appear in the stomach and are benign, but surgery can be used to removed groups of malignant tumours together. Patients with scattered tumours are prescribed imatinib, but in some cases the drug becomes less effective over time.
Sunitinib slows tumour growth by attaching to cancer cells, and the first cycle of the drug for NHS patients with unresectable or metastatic GISTs will be funded by the manufacturer.
Professor Peter Littlejohns, NICE clinical and public health director, said: “Gastro-intestinal stromal tumours are difficult to diagnose but it has been estimated that there are around 240 new cases of unresectable and/or metastatic GISTs per year in England and Wales.
“Today’s guidance provides these patients with a further treatment option and represents a positive move by the manufacturer, who, by reducing the cost the NHS will have to pay for this treatment, will enable as many eligible patients as possible to access it.”
Copyright Press Association 2009