Via Modern Commentaries
, an example of what a government monopoly on health care means
People with advanced bowel cancer have been offered fresh hope of a potential cure, according to a study.
Researchers found that one in nine patients could have cancers that had spread to their livers cleared by a combination of the drug Avastin and chemotherapy.
The drug works by attacking the blood vessels which feed tumours, thereby starving it of nutrients and causing it to shrink.
Previous research has found that the drug, combined with chemotherapy, could extend advanced bowel cancer patients’ lives by five months.
Despite this, the National Institute for health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) ruled in January that local health care trusts should not make it available on the NHS because at £18,000 per patient it was “not cost-effective”.
Ian Beaumont, of Bowel Cancer UK, said yesterday: “In the past metastatic [advanced] patients have been looking at a bleak prognosis. To get to the point where their cancers could be curable is a really significant step.
“This confirms our belief that we are moving towards a new era in which these tumours, which were previously inoperable, can be operated on and cleared.
“We always believed these drugs were better than Nice claimed. The data Nice based their decision on was way out of date, and this shows the benefits are far greater than those highlighted in the Nice assessment.”
In July, Victoria Otley, 57, won a High Court case to overturn the decision of her primary care trust to refuse her Avastin. Miss Otley, of Dagenham, Essex, was told that without the drug she would not live more than three to six months.
She had raised £15,000 to pay for supplies of Avastin, with other drugs and her condition improved but when the drugs ran out, Barking and Dagenham Primary Care Trust refused to pay for any more.
It said the drug was not cost effective but the High Court quashed the decision saying Miss Otley’s was an exceptional case. The ruling did not affect the Nice guidance.
About 35,000 new cases of bowel cancer are diagnosed in Britain each year.
Prof David Cunningham, from Royal Marsden Hospital, London, said: “In the past we would be forced to tell patients with metastatic bowel cancer that has spread extensively there was nothing we could do but extend their lives as much as possible.
“Now with newer combinations of drugs we are able to offer some hope that we can beat the disease even if patients present in an advanced state.”
Labels: Health Care, Socialized Medicine, United Kingdom