August 7, 2008

Charities Hit Out at Drugs Watchdog


CHARITIES yesterday spoke out about the NHS refusing patients new treatments for a rare form of cancer.

Drugs watchdog for England and Wales, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice), has ruled four new kidney cancer medicines are effective but do not offer the health service good value for money.

In Scotland, equivalent body the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC), has already rejected three of the treatments.

Cancer Research UK and broadcaster James Whale, who set up the James Whale Fund for Kidney Cancer after suffering the disease, were among the first to criticise the Nice judgment - which is subject to appeal.

Professor Peter Johnson, Cancer Research UK's chief clinician, said: "We are disappointed at Nice's view that although these drugs are clinically effective, their high price means that they are not considered to be value for money for the NHS.

"These drugs have shown a small but definite improvement in an illness where there are few alternative treatments. If this decision stands it will be very frustrating for cancer patients and their clinicians."

The charity said metastatic renal cell carcinoma was a rare form of kidney cancer so there was limited clinical data on the best way to treat it and very few options for fighting the disease.

Professor Johnson said: "Although we understand Nice often has to make difficult decisions, in this case there is a clear separation between what Nice finds to be valuable treatment, and clinical and patient opinion. Action is needed to bring the two positions closer."

Mr Whale, who lost a kidney to cancer in 2000 said: "Monetary considerations don't come into it. It's barbaric and it's politically motivated, in my view."

Originally published by Newsquest Media Group.

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