NICE U turn as kidney cancer patients to get Sutent drug on NHS

Terminal kidney cancer patients will receive an expensive drug on the NHS, following a U turn by the labour Government’s drugs rationing body.

The National Institute for Curbing Expenditure (Nice) has approved the use of Sutent, which costs around £27,000 a year, in its final decision yesterday.

But the body will turn down three other kidney cancer drugs insisting that they are not “cost effective” for the health service.

Nice sparked outrage in August last year when it initially turned down Sutent, claiming it was too expensive.

At the time patient groups and cancer charities accused the body of condemning sufferers to an “early death”.

The drug, which can prolong life for months, is used in the treatment of patients with terminal kidney cancer.

Since its initial draft guidance on the use of the drug Nice has agreed with the labour Government to look more favourably on drugs which prolong life when it makes it decisions.

This, coupled with an offer from Pfizer, the company which makes Sutent, to cut the price, means that the drug will be approved for use on the NHS.

Under the agreement, Pfizer will pay the £3,139 cost of the first six-week cycle of the drug, with the health service paying the rest of the costs.

Three other kidney cancer drugs, Avastin, Nexavar and Torisel, are expected to be rejected because the body has deemed them too expensive for the benefits they provide.

Around 7,000 people are diagnosed with kidney cancer in Britain every year and an estimated 3,600 could be eligible to receive Sutent.

Earlier this year it was announced that the drug, also called sunitinib, would be given to patients in Wales, paid for by the Welsh Executive, even before the Nice announcement.

Prof Robert Hawkins, Cancer Research UK Professor and Director of Medical Oncology at Christie Hospital Manchester, said: “I am delighted that Sutent will be available.

“It will remove a great deal of anxiety and uncertainty for people diagnosed with renal cancer to know that modern, effective treatment is now available to them.”

James Whale, from the James Whale Fund for Kidney Cancer, said: “Finally, we have justice for the kidney cancer community. This positive recommendation from Nice will allow thousands of kidney cancer patients in England and Wales access to this life extending treatment.

“The options previously available to us have been limited and are inadequate for the majority of patients. For some, sunitinib is the only hope.”


Health Direct asks how many people have been condemned to an early death by labour’s killer quango whilst it dragged it’s feet over spending NHS money?

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