August 20, 2008

NICE Rejects New Kidney Cancer Drugs

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, UK has rejected four kidney cancer treatments for use on the National Health Service on grounds that the drugs are not cost effective, according to PharmaTimes.

The draft guidance issued by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), contends that Roche's Avastin (bevacizumab), Bayer's Nexavar (sorafenib), Pfizer's Sutent (sunitinib) and Wyeth's Torisel (temsirolimus) are costly for the treatment of advanced or metastatic renal cell carcinoma.

According to Peter Littlejohns, clinical and public health director at NICE, although the four drugs have the potential to extend progression-free survival by fivesix months, the treatment comes at a huge cost of GBP20,000-35,000 per patient per year. The cost per quality adjusted life year (QALY) gained of these treatments is between GBP28,500-90,600 per patient (reported by the manufacturers) and GBP71,500- 171,300 per patient, according to NICE's independent academic group. This cost factor is largely the reason behind NICE's rejection of the drugs.

However, PharmaTimes has quoted Peter Johnson, chief clinician at Cancer Research UK, as saying: "It is often difficult to get unequivocal research data in rarer cancers, such as metastatic kidney cancer, which have a small patient population."

NICE has also announced that it will look into the proposals developed by the drug manufacturers for reducing the cost of the drugs.