The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has turned down a new breast cancer drug for use on the NHS, despite it being described as “one of the biggest advances” in treatment for many years.
NICE has turned down a new breast cancer drug
In July 2012, the European Commission approved new drug everolimus for use in combination with chemotherapy to treat certain postmenopausal women with advanced breast cancer.
This means that the drug, marketed as Afinitor, is available for private prescription in the UK, and patients with health insurance could have access to it on their policy.
But with a price tag of £36,000, NICE has rejected Afinitor for widespread use on the NHS because it does not deem it cost effective.
Last year, early trial results of Afinitor showed that when combined with chemotherapy, the drug could more than double the time that tumours were “stalled” compared with chemo alone- 7.8 months compared with 3.2 months.
Dr Rachel Greig, of the charity Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said the drug was an exciting development: “Everolimus is one of the biggest advances in breast cancer treatment in many years.”
But because of the draft guidance by NICE, the only way patients without medical insurance can get treatment with Afinitor is by paying for it themselves or applying to the Government Cancer Drugs Fund.
Afinitor has the potential to help up to 8,000 women a year.
Sir Andrew Dillon, chief executive of NICE, said: “For a treatment to be recommended by Nice, it must be shown to be cost-effective.
“That means it must work as well as, or better than, current NHS treatment, taking into account any associated side effects and the cost that the NHS is being asked to pay.”
NICE’s decision is only at draft stage, meaning that the guidance may change. Experts hope that NICE can find a way to meet the manufacturers midway to find a solution.
Rather than blocking cancer cells from taking up oestrogen or lowering hormone levels, Afinitor works by targeting other proteins in the cancer cell which control how it works and grows.
If you want access to new cancer drugs like Afinitor on your health insurance, look for a policy with full cancer cover with cover for licensed cancer drugs and treatments.
© ActiveQuote Health Ltd. 2013