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Bowel cancer drug rejected

24th August 2010

The decision by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence to reject the use of the bowel cancer drug Avastin has been condemned by campaigners.

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NICE have said that the health service should not use the drug to treat patients as it is too expensive to "justify its benefits".

Avastin (bevacizumab) costs an average of £21,000 per patient and it can be used to give people with terminal forms of the disease more time.

The drug decreases blood supply to tumours and can make them smaller in size. It is given to patients in the US and Europe, but UK patients have to purchase the drug or make an appeal to their local health authority.

According to estimates, around 6,500 people in the UK could be treated with Avastin every year.

NICE said the drug usually gave patients another six weeks of life, on top of chemotherapy treatments. However campaigners said this data underestimated how long patients could survive.

Sir Andrew Dillon, chief executive of NICE, said: "We are disappointed not to be able to recommend bevacizumab as well, but we have to be confident that the benefits justify the considerable cost of this drug."

Ian Beaumont, campaigns director of Bowel Cancer UK, said they were "disappointed" that NICE had rejected the use of the drug, when it was "so widely available to patients across the rest of Europe".

 

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