Cancer drug Avastin puts spotlight on NICE

THE RECOMMENDATION from the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) that cancer drug Avastin is not a cost effective use of NHS resources highlights the differences between state and private care says the Association of Medical Insurance Intermediaries.

NICE rejected the use of Avastin, the drug used in treatment against colorectal cancer whose chemical name is bevacizumab, last month on grounds of cost effectiveness, although it acknowledged that the drug could offer clinical benefits.

AMII says the rejection of Avastin undermines the Government’s aim of avoiding a two tier health service.

Mike Izzard, chairman of AMII says: “I am truly shocked by this latest development. If the NHS is not able or willing to offer certain cancer drugs where will that leave patients who could really benefit from these drugs?

“All the major political parties keep claiming they want the best healthcare service and they want to avoid a two tier healthcare system with the NHS on one side and the private sector on the other.

“If the NHS cannot provide the possible live saving treatment which is now available, then the private sector will have to step in more and more with the result that a two tier system becomes inevitable, whatever the political ideals.”

Nice spokesperson Dr Carole Longson says: “The Committee recognised that bevacizumab may provide benefits in terms of clinical effectiveness.

However, the uncertainties in the economic analysis provided by the manufacturer and, in particular, the proposed patient access scheme led the Committee to conclude that the high cost of bevacizumab relative to the benefits it brings means that it is not a cost-effective use of NHS resources for the treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer.