Published on 18/04/2012
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has turned down drug Avastin for the treatment of breast cancer on the NHS.
In draft guidance, NICE said it did not recommend Avastin (bevacizumab) for the treatment of advanced breast cancer when used in combination with chemotherapy drug capecitabine.
NICE said that making Avastin available on the NHS was not a good use of resources because of its high cost, and the lack of evidence to show patients would have a better quality of life than if they were treated with chemotherapy alone.
Avastin is a tumour-starving drug that works by preventing blood vessels reaching the tumour, stopping progression of the disease for an average of three months. Although the drug is licensed for use in the UK, at over £3,500 a month per patient it is not readily available on the NHS.
Until final guidance is issued, NHS bodies will make decisions locally on the funding of Avastin.
This means that patients in certain postcodes may miss out on being treated with the drug. Patients in areas where Avastin is not approved will have to pay privately, claim on their private medical insurance or apply to the government Cancer Drugs Fund.
Sir Andrew Dillon, chief executive of NICE, said: “We understand the need for effective treatments that can help patients live for as long as possible with a good quality of life. However, the evidence submitted to our independent appraisal committee did not conclusively show that bevacizumab could do either.
“We want to ensure people have access to the best treatments the NHS can afford; bevacizumab has so far not been proven to be clinically or cost-effective.”
A consultation has been opened for the drug's manufacturer Roche, healthcare professionals and members of the public to comment on the guidance from NICE.
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