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NICE ruling on Vidaza challenged

23rd March 2010

Cancer support groups have said they will appeal against the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence's decision not to treat health service patients with Vidaza.

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The drug gives an extra nine months of life, on average, to people suffering from myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), a form of bone marrow disease.

NICE have decided that Vidaza, which costs £45,000 per patient per year, is too expensive.

The disease causes patients' bone marrow to malfunction and means they require blood transfusions. In a third of patients the disease leads to acute myeloid leukaemia.

The average survival rate after diagnosis is around 20 months. According to research, patients treated with Vidaza survived for 24.5 months in comparison to 15 months for patients treated with chemotherapy.

David Hall, an MDS patient who is also chairman of the MDS UK Patient Support Group, said the drug represented the first step in available medication to treat the disease.

Mr Hall said: "The negative recommendation is a return to hopelessness for UK MDS patients."

"The recommendations also create an ethical dilemma for doctors treating this condition. How can it be in the patient's best interest to deny them an average of an extra nine months of life?"

 

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