Date Published: 27 May 2010

Final NICE guidance rejects advanced liver cancer drug sorafenib

Cancer Research UK

Sorafenib (brand name Nexavar) will not be made available on the NHS for people with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the most common form of primary liver cancer.

Final guidance published by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) says that the high cost of the treatment cannot be justified by its "marginal" benefit.

Evidence reviewed by the institute's independent advisory committee suggests that the drug typically increases survival by an extra 2.8 months for people with HCC - for which life expectancy is usually less than 24 months.

The only treatment that may provide a cure is surgery, but most patients are not suitable candidates.

However, at a cost of £27,000 per patient, the institute said that it could not recommend sorafenib as a cost-effective use of NHS resources.

Andrew Dillon, chief executive of NICE, said that he was disappointed not to have been able to recommend the drug.

" After carefully considering all the evidence, including the proposed 'patient access scheme', in which the manufacturer offered to provide every fourth pack free, sorafenib does not provide enough benefit to patients to justify its high cost."

Hilary Tovey, Cancer Research UK's policy manager, said:

" We are very disappointed with NICE's decision today to deny sorafenib to advanced liver cancer patients as this drug has been shown to benefit those who are unable to have surgery or any other treatments.

It is particularly frustrating that cancer patients in the UK are unable to access this drug when it is routinely available elsewhere in the world.

We hope that the government's plans to introduce a Cancer Drugs Fund will help to make this and other similar drugs available to patients in the future. We look forward to receiving more detail about the fund, and particularly what support will be offered to patients between now and April next year."


Source: Cancer Research UK..

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