Azara Blog: Two bowel cancer drugs not approved for routine use in NHS

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Date published: 2006/08/21

The BBC says:

Charities have criticised a proposal to block the routine NHS use of two drugs for advanced bowel cancer.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) said there was insufficient evidence to recommend Avastin and Erbitux.

But charities say both drugs are the best option for seriously ill patients whose cancer has spread.

They say the drugs have been shown to extend life expectancy by four to five months in some patients.
...
However, both drugs are relatively expensive. Avastin costs on average £17,665 per patient, and Erbitux £11,739.

Well the BBC does not state whether that cost is per year, or until the patient dies (so per four to five months), or what. But under any measure these drugs are not cheap. And they hardly extend life expectancy at all (on average) for this class of patients. So it does not seem like a crazy decision. Of course the NHS could spend a near infinite amount of money on drugs, and it is up to Nice to figure out how to reduce that tally to an affordable amount.

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