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Tuesday 25th October 2016

Kidney cancer drug decision

7th August 2008

Patients with advanced kidney cancer will be denied four treatments on the NHS under new proposals.


In draft guidelines for England and Wales the government's drugs advisory body, the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) says the four drugs do not offer value for money.

Avastin (bevacizumab), Nexavar (sorafenib), Sutent (sunitinib) and Torisel (temsirolimus) cost £20,000 to £35,000 a year per patient.

About 7,000 people are diagnosed with kidney cancer every year in the UK and in 1,700 cases this will be advanced.

Of the treatments available, none cure the renal cancer though they can extend a patient’s life by up to six months.

NICE found the drugs gave significant gains in survival but did not meet its criteria for cost effectiveness, though people already on the therapy can continue with their treatment.

Scotland has rejected use of all but temsirolimus and a decision has yet to be taken in Northern Ireland.

Professor Peter Littlejohns, clinical and public health director at NICE, said: "NICE has to decide what treatments represent best value to the patient as well as the NHS.

"Although these treatments are clinically effective, regrettably, the cost to the NHS is such that they are not a cost-effective use of NHS resources."

He added: "If these treatments were provided on the NHS, other patients would lose out on treatments that are both clinically and cost effective."

Cancer Research UK said the drugs had shown a small but definite improvement in an illness where there are few alternative treatments.


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