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Watchdog approves two drugs for treatment of bowel cancer

Sunday March 5, 2017 11:52 PM, ANI

Bowel Cancer

A health watchdog has recommended two drugs could improve care for patients with bowel cancer.

Bowel cancer is diagnosed every 15 minutes in the UK and the deadly disease claims the lives of more than 40 people each day - partly because the symptoms are so hard to spot.

It is the country's second biggest cancer killer.

Treatment for bowel cancer will usually depend on which part of your bowel is affected and how far the cancer has spread.

Surgery is usually the main treatment for bowel cancer, and may be combined with chemotherapy, radiotherapy or biological treatments, depending on your particular case.

Two bowel cancer drugs available on the Cancer Drugs Fund should move into routine NHS use, NICE has said in new guidance.

The guidance recommends cetuximab (Erbitux, Merck Serono) and panitumumab (Vectibix, Amgen) as first-line treatments for certain types of bowel cancer.

Health watchdog NICE reviewed its original guidance on cetuximab and panitumumab after a change to their licenses altered the group of patients they could be used by.

The Cancer Drugs Fund National Health Service (NHS) was set up to help patients in England get cancer drugs that are not routinely available on the NHS.

NICE has been asked to review drugs, approved and still available only through the old Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF), and has now reached the half way point.

A price drop has meant more cancer drugs will be routinely available to patients.

In all cases so far NICE has been able to make recommendations for routine NHS use, companies have reviewed and reduced their prices, and in some cases provided clearer evidence as to why they will benefit patients and the NHS.

NICE is appraising 24 drugs, across 33 cancer indications that have been supplied to patients who applied for conditional funding through the CDF.

The remaining drugs are in the process of being appraised and no drugs have received a final negative decision.

Sir Andrew Dillon, chief executive of NICE, said: "The system is working well.

"Companies are cooperating well with our reviews and the good news for patients is that more cancer drugs than ever are being recommended for routine use.

"As drugs move off the CDF, we free up funding for new drugs coming down the pipeline, so patients will have faster access to promising cancer drugs and the NHS makes the most of its resources."

Patients will also learn the fate of three best new breast cancer drugs in the coming weeks.

Baroness Delyth Morgan, Chief Executive at Breast Cancer Now, said: "Women with incurable secondary breast cancer have unfortunately been subjected to a heart-breaking few months as a result of two provisional drug rejections, with key final decisions now looming.

"While we need companies to play their part in ensuring patients get the drugs they need through more responsible pricing, we believe there are major flaws in the NICE process which may block new and more novel drugs coming through.

"We desperately hope to be proven wrong, but all indicators to date suggest this system is not fit for purpose in assessing modern cancer drugs.

"We need the Government to initiate wholescale reform to this process, otherwise revolutionary new breast cancer treatments being made available in other countries will pass NHS patients by."


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