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Minister defends drugs axe U-turn

A U-turn on the axing of three kidney cancer drugs by the NHS has been defended by Welsh health minister Edwina Hart.

Avastin, Nexavar and Torisel have been de-listed on cost grounds after recommendations by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).

After previously saying that the three life-prolonging drugs should be made available, Mrs Hart has now backed the decision to withdraw them.

It means that only Sutent will continue to be used as a firstline treatment, although patients already receiving the three withdrawn drugs will continue to do so.

Mrs Hart denied Tory claims that she had previously been "chasing positive headlines", and that her change of heart was made only after consulting health professionals.

She says: "I took my decision on the basis of the best interests of patients. I don't play games with patients. I don't do politics around the issue of drugs, which I regard as far too serious."

She added: "NICE guidance came out in favour of Sutent and I came out in favour of Sutent, and that is the factual position."

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