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Liver cancer drug denied to patients

26th May 2010

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has not approved the use of Nexavar for liver cancer patients, despite an appeal.

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Trials have suggested that the drug can extend life expectancy by an average of seven months, twice the time survived by patients who were not given the drug. Each course of the medication costs £7,000 per month. 

No other medication is available to treat liver cancer, although some patients may undergo a surgical procedure. 

3,000 patients are diagnosed with liver cancer annually and around 600 of this number could potentially be treated with Nexavar.

Kate Spall, founder of the Pamela Northcott Fund, which helps cancer patients refused new treatments, said: "This is yet another example of how this bureaucratic monolith continues to directly affect patients' lives."

"Liver cancer patients will be left now without any treatment options other than palliative care."

However, NICE stated that the "high cost could not be justified by its marginal benefit".

NICE said Nexavar extended life by an average of 2.8 months on average, but it would cost £27,000 to treat each patient.

Andrew Wilson Webb, chief executive of the Rarer Cancers Foundation, said: "It is a sad state of affairs that we are now the only country in the EU that doesn't prescribe this drug as a matter of course."

 

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