View Full Version : Breast cancer sufferers will be denied life-extending drug (UK)

10-21-2009, 03:04 PM
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Thousands of patients with advanced breast cancer are to be denied a 'last chance' drug on the NHS.

The Government's rationing body said lapatinib is too expensive even though its makers will provide the first three months' treatment free of charge.

The decision by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) during Breast Cancer Awareness month was condemned by campaigners, doctors and the Conservatives.

NICE will issue guidance shortly that in effect bans the drug, which is used in 18 other European countries.

It comes despite a pledge by NICE to be more flexible in giving life-extending drugs to terminally ill cancer patients after a public outcry last year over 'death sentence' decisions.

NICE was forced to apply this end-of-life criteria to lapatinib by its own appeals panel.

The drug met all three conditions; it is used for patients with less than two years' life expectancy, it offers at least three extra months of life and is licensed for a small number of patients. But it had no effect on the final decision.

Campaigners last night said NICE had failed the 'acid test' of whether it really intended to give new priority to people with just a few months to live.