Women without private health insurance will miss out on a drug for advanced ovarian cancer, after it has been turned down for use on the NHS.
Avastin has been turned down for use on the NHS
Cancer of the ovary is the fifth most common cancer among women, and can affect women of any age. As the symptoms of ovarian cancer are vague it is often not diagnosed until the advanced stages.
Avastin is the first targeted drug to gain EU approval for ovarian cancer. Women with the disease were previously limited to treatment with chemotherapy and surgery, but clinical studies have shown that Avastin can stop the progression of advanced ovarian cancer for four months longer than standard treatment.
Unfortunately, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has turned down Avastin for use on the NHS because of the cost. The drug is estimated to cost around £25,000, with a cost per Qaly (quality adjusted life year) of £150,000. NICE normally only approves drugs with a cost per Qaly of £30,000.
Since Avastin is not approved for use on the NHS, ovarian cancer patients will either have to appeal to the government Cancer Drugs Fund or claim on their health insurance policy. However, a recent report by the Health Committee warned that the future over the Cancer Drugs Fund is unclear.
Frances Reid, from the charity, Target Ovarian Cancer, said: “We know women will be distressed by this decision.”
"We are very frustrated, because with the changes to commissioning of chemotherapy, it’s not even certain yet whether women in England will be able to access the drug for recurrent ovarian cancer through the Cancer Drugs Fund.”
Private medical insurance gives patients access to licensed drugs like Avastin regardless of whether or not they are available on the NHS. Dr Katrina Herren, Medical Director at Bupa Health and Wellbeing, said: “If a cancer drug is licensed by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and is being used within license, we will fund it regardless of cost.”
If you want to be covered on your policy for breakthrough cancer drugs and treatments like Avastin, look for a health insurance quote with full cancer cover.
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