The charity has condemned the Government’s drug rationing watchdog NICE’s preliminary decision to not recommend Avastin for the treatment of advanced bowel cancer on the NHS.
NICE says the cost of Avastin - at about £21,000 per patient - does not justify its benefits. It offers patients with advanced bowel cancer the chance of a few extra weeks or months of life.
Avastin, also known as bevacizumab, works by reducing the blood supply to a tumour, causing it to shrink or stop growing.
Bowel Cancer UK campaigns director Ian Beaumont appeared on GMTV and BBC Breakfast this morning to criticise the decision.
Beaumont said the charity was ‘disappointed’ that NICE has turned down Avastin for use on the NHS, when ‘it is so widely available’ to patients across the rest of Europe.
He added: ‘It is also regrettable that it has taken NICE nearly a year to reach its verdict, when it has pledged to speed up its appraisal processes. We hope, however, that the imminent introduction of the new Interim Drugs Fund and the Cancer Drugs Fund next year will enable patients and their clinicians to gain greater access to effective treatments like Bevacizumab on the NHS and help to create a fairer, more timely and more efficient system of doing so, that puts patients’ health needs first.’
Patients in England will be able to apply to the £50m interim cancer drug fund from October, with further money available next year.