August 25, 2008
Cancer Advice is Slammed
Leading UK cancer experts have accused a health watchdog of forcing patients to remortgage their homes to afford treatments freely available in Europe.
The group of 26 professors were "dismayed" at guidance issued by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) to deny patients four vital kidney cancer drugs on the NHS.
They said the decision showed it was time for a "radical change" in how the NHS makes decisions on what treatments are available for cancer sufferers.
Earlier this month Nice issued draft guidance rejecting the drugs Sutent (sunitinib), Avastin (bevacizumab), Nexavar (sorafenib) and Torisel (temsirolimus).
In a letter to the Sunday Times, the consultants said: "We are dismayed at the decision on the rationing of drugs for patients with advanced kidney cancer."
The draft guidance rejects the drugs, saying they are not cost effective for patients with advanced and/or metastatic kidney cancer.
The medicines do not cure the cancer but extend a person's life.
But the professors wrote: "We have already seen distraught patients remortgaging their houses and selling cars simply to buy drugs freely available to those using health services in countries of comparable wealth."
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