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Use of cancer drug rejected by NICE


The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has blocked the NHS from using Tyverb (lapatinib), meaning as many as 2,000 women with advanced breast cancer will be denied the drug, said to extend patients’ lives.

The drug’s maker GlaxoSmithKline (GSK claims it is an effective treatment, but NICE said the drug only keeps patients alive for an extra few weeks and is too expensive.

The treatment is administered in pill form and is used alongside the chemotherapy treatment Xeloda (capecitabine) for those women with the hormone-sensitive cancer. Many receive it after standard treatments fail.

However, the drug firm claims Tyverb can extend lives by up to three months, compared with Xeloda alone, adding that the drug would be supplied at no cost for the first 12 weeks of use.

The Czech Republic, Iceland, Slovakia and Slovenia are among 18 nations that currently pay for the drug.

According to NICE, Tyverb does “not represent good value for money when compared with the alternative, currently available treatment”. However this is only draft guidance and can be appealed against.

Chief executive Andrew Dillon said NICE has been considering use of the drug since 2007. He said: “This has been a long and comprehensive evaluation of the evidence available but only because we want to be sure the decision reached is the right one and made for the right reasons.”

Copyright Press Association 2010

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