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Tuesday 22nd May 2018

Refund on cancer drug backed

4th June 2007

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has sanctioned a new system in which a bone marrow-cancer drug's makers would refund the NHS if treatment did not work.


The idea, the first ever put forward, was suggested by manufacturer Janssen-Cilag. The proposal could provide a way forward for more drugs to be obtainable on the health service.

NICE is currently advocating the use of Velcade for multiple myeloma patients in England and Wales. The watchdog wants the NHS to only pay the £18,000 cost of the treatment if it proved to be effective.

NICE's final guidance is due in October. The government and Velcade's maker will decide whether to go ahead with the scheme.

Harpal Kumar, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, commended NICE for putting forward what he termed an "innovative approach".

Myeloma, an incapacitating form of bone cancer, affects 20,000 people in the UK and is incurable. The treatment has been shown to extend life expectancy for the condition - usually three to five years - by a considerable number of months.

NICE proposes that patients who responded to the drug following (at most) four cycles, could continue to receive treatment, which would have NHS funding. Patients who did not respond would stop taking Velcade and its maker would refund its costs.

Andrew Dillon, NICE chief executive, said: "We are aware of the challenge that the NHS faces in ensuring that patients can access expensive, but potentially effective, treatments for life-threatening conditions such as cancer. All patients suitable for treatment will get the chance to see if the drug works well for them."

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