On the agenda - NICE rejects liver cancer treatment

In a nutshell The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has come under fire for denying NHS funding for its primary liver cancer treatment. The government drug rationing body rejected the drug on the grounds that it was not a cost-effective use of NHS resources.

Patients: denied new drug
Patients: denied new drug

Why is this important?

Nexavar was acknowledged by NICE to be the only systemic treatment that could prolong the survival of eligible patients and meet its end-of-life criteria. Bayer, the manufacturer, has announced it will appeal the decision, claiming NICE had gone against its own 'end-of-life criteria' and the government strategy to bring cancer outcomes in line with Europe.

Background

NICE announced in January that it was going to improve patient access to life-extending end-of-life treatments, into which category Nexavar fits.

PR strategy and support

Retained support Leon PR founder Vanessa Leon has been handling PR around the drug with Bayer UK PR manager for oncology Janine Hogan. Hogan said: 'We have worked with Leon PR on this since June and our key message to the media was that we would fight this decision.' The campaign will continue until the appeal submission in the next week and beyond.

Media coverage

The Daily Mail covered the story last Thursday with the headline: 'Condemned to an early death'. It also ran a full-page comment piece by a former chief to the World Health Organization Cancer Programme slamming NICE's decision. The Daily Telegraph ran with the headline 'Patients denied last-ditch liver drug'.

£36k - cost of using the drug for a year

6 months extra life expectancy

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