This site is intended for health professionals only

Kidney cancer drug ruling condemned

Denying kidney cancer patients a lifesaving drug treatment because it costs £23,000 a year has handed sufferers a "death sentence", a charity claims.

Health bosses in Scotland have been told not to fund Sutent (sunitinib) because it is too expensive when assessed against the benefits.

The guidance from the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC), which advises on NHS treatment in Scotland, has angered many doctors and patient groups.

They insist the drug is a potential lifeline, and they believe the decision will have tragic implications.

The James Whale Fund for Kidney Cancer issued a statement describing its reaction as one of "anger and disbelief".

James Whale, the charity's founder and chairman, said: "By deciding not to fund Sutent, the SMC has effectively issued a death sentence to the 660 patients living with kidney cancer in Scotland.

"Despite the overwhelming evidence supporting Sutent, doctors will be forced to say 'no' to patients who need access to this lifesaving treatment.

"The decision not to fund Sutent in Scotland will affect the 6,600 kidney cancer patients north and south of the border."

An SMC spokesman said: "We are truly disappointed not to be able to recommend sunitinib at this time.

"The remit of our organisation is clear - we exist to recommend treatments that offer good value for money to the NHS in Scotland."

Scottish Medicines Consortium

The James Whale Fund for Kidney Cancer

Copyright © PA Business 2007