Bowel Cancer Drug Rejection

medication-1The decision to reject the bowel cancer drug for use in England and Wales has be condemned by campaigners. NICE the watch dog group stated the cost is £21,000 per patient and does not just the benefits. The drug would give a few extra weeks or months of life to advanced bowel cancer patients.

NICE stated that studies have shown that the drug only adds an extra six weeks of life, along with chemotherapy treatment. The chief executive for NICE, Sir Andrew Dillion, stated that other drugs have been recommended and the organization must feel confident when recommending a drug that the benefits are worth the high cost. However, others have disputed these numbers, stating that there are studies that show it can prolong life much longer than that.

A fund created by the government has a cancer charity hoping the treatment will be available to patients. This fund could be a way for cancer patients to seek drugs like Avastin. The campaign director for Bowel Cancer UK, Ian Beaumont, was disappointed by NICE turning down the drug on the NHS, especially since it used for other patients around Europe. He further stated that it was a disappointment that it NICE a year to reach this decision. While on the BBC Breakfast he continued to say that the data used by NICE was flawed and additional studies had been done that showed the drug extended life by more than six weeks.

Head of policy at Macmillan Cancer Support, Mike Hobday, said that the decision was devastating to patients with bowel cancer. He said that a few weeks or months are extremely important to families with cancer. He feels the drug fund needs to be in place sooner than later, so that people with rare forms of cancer have access to effective drugs.

The drug, called Avastin or bevacizumab, reduces blood to the tumor. This reduction causes the tumor to shrink or stop growing all together. It is currently already used in the United States and in parts of Europe. However, UK patients have to pay for it themselves or appeal to their health authority for funding. The UK could see as many as 6,500 patients benefiting from the drug.

One patient, Barbara Moss, says she is living proof that the drug works. She also feels that the decision by NICE has create the choice of living or dying based on if they can buy the drug, since it is not available on the NHS.

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