Lung cancer drug ruled too expensive for English patients

Thousands of lung cancer patients in England will be denied a drug which could prolong their life after it was ruled too expensive by the NHS watchdog NICE.

Guidance issued to NHS doctors by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (Nice) claims that the drug Tarceva is not a good use of “scarce resources”. However, it will remain available in Scotland.

It is estimated that 2,300 patients in England could benefit from the drug, which adds on average three months to life expectancy and costs around £1,700 a month per patient.

Nick Thatcher, professor of medical oncology at the Christie Hospital, Manchester, said: “Nice has undervalued the benefits to a patient and in doing so, has undermined lung cancer specialists’ ability to do what is best for those in our care.”

Ciaran Devane, chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, said he was “disappointed” and that the drug “can give some patients extra time which can be extremely valuable”.

Roche, the makers of Tarceva, said it would appeal against the decision.


Health Direct points out that once again NICE- the National Institute for Curbing Expenditure is once again increasing labour’s health postcode lottery.

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