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Avastin cancer drug denied to NHS patients in the UK

By Jane Fazackarley     Aug 25, 2010 in Health
Avastin, a drug that has been shown to increase the life span of people suffering from advanced bowel cancer, won't be offered to NHS patients in the United Kingdom after a ruling from NICE.
One of the roles of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence is to recommend drugs and treatments to the NHS. It was announced on Tuesday that the Avastin cancer drug was considered too costly. The drug would cost around £21,000 for each patient. 6,500 people a year could benefit from the drug.
The drug can be obtained privately in the UK but not on the NHS. Patients in other countries such as France, Germany, Italy and Australia are able to get the life-extending treatment at no cost.
Avastin, also known as Bevacizumab, has been cleared for treatment of renal, breast and lung cancers and it has been shown to be effective in treating other forms of the disease.
Aavstin works by starving the tumour, depriving the cancer of what it needs to continue growing or to spread.
According to the Avastin website patients who were given the drug lived longer than patients who were only given chemotherapy. Avastin also shrunk tumours by 50%. The drug was used alongside chemotherapy treatment.
Sir Andrew Dillon, chief executive of NICE said:
"We have recommended several treatments for various stages of colorectal cancer, including cetuximab for the first-line treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer."
"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."
Cancer Research UK's policy manager Hilary Tovey, talking about yesterdays decision, said:
This is a disappointing decision from NICE today.
"We know that the appraisal committee has found that Avastin was clinically effective as a treatment for this type of bowel cancer. It's now up to NICE and the manufacturers of this treatment to work together to reach an agreement to make this drug available to the patients who might benefit from it."
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