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NHS Watchdog Rejects Cancer Drug

Nice Avastin Ruling 



Cancer patients have spoken of their disappointment after a bowel cancer drug was deemed too costly to be made available on the NHS.

Barbara Moss, from Worcester, said she was "living proof" that Avastin (bevacizumab) worked after being given just three months to live in November 2006 by doctors who told her bowel cancer had spread to her liver.

Chemotherapy had failed to help the 55-year-old former teacher, but she saw her tumour shrink to half its size after taking Avastin and she was operated on by surgeons.

Avastin can help patients with advanced bowel cancer which spread to other organs, usually the liver and lungs.

But the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) said it had considered the drug, including a risk-sharing scheme from the manufacturer Roche, but still thought the price too high for the extra benefit it gives patients.

Avastin costs almost £21,000 per patient and an estimated 6,500 people per year could be eligible for the drug.

Mrs Moss, a former teacher from Worcester, said: "To say that I am disappointed is an understatement. I am still here - alive.

"I am living proof that Avastin works.

"Nice has put a value on life. It seems immoral to me that, as a result of negative Nice decisions like this one, people's choice of living or dying depends on whether they can afford a drug because it isn't available to them on the NHS."

Copyright © Press Association 2010

Yogi Amin from law firm Irwin Mitchell has campaigned for many patients who have been denied access to drugs in the past such as Herceptin. He said: “It is extremely difficult to put a price on a person’s life and their human rights. “