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Cancer wonder drug not available on NHS

If you read this week’s Daily Mail, you will have seen the story that NICE (Britain’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) has announced that the new cancer wonder drug Nivolumab is too expensive and so won’t be available in England and Wales.

Nivolumab has shown to be twice as effective as chemotherapy with far fewer side effects.

To be told you have a life threatening disease is of course totally devastating. But to then be told there is a drug that could help or even stop it progressing, but you can’t have it because Britain can’t afford the cost must be even more shattering.

But here at Laterlife we remembered a breaking story just last July when it was announced that Nivolumab had been approved for lung cancer through the UK’s early access to medicine’s scheme and had been given an EU license for melanoma.

So does this mean that some patients can still have access to this breakthrough treatment.

Laterlife decided to find out the facts and contacted NICE.

They told Laterlife:

“Our independent advisory committee recognised that Nivolumab is a promising new treatment. However, even allowing for the extra flexibility they have for making recommendations about new cancer treatments, it could not be considered a cost effective use of NHS resources.”

However, NICE  has also told us that they are today (Dec 16th) opening a consultation on  preliminary draft guidance on Nivolumab (marketed as Opdivo by Bristol-Myers Squibb) to treat a specific type of lung cancer known as squamous cell, which is advanced or has spread to other areas of the body in adults whose disease has progressed after chemotherapy.

They said:

“Consultees, including the manufacturer, healthcare professionals and members of the public are now able to comment on the preliminary guidance. Comments received during this consultation will be fully considered by the Committee and following this meeting the next draft guidance will be issued.

“Until final guidance is issued, NHS bodies should make decisions locally on the funding of specific treatments. Once NICE issues its final guidance on a technology, it replaces local recommendations across the country.

 

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