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NICE rejects breast cancer drug

Breast cancer sufferers will be denied access to the drug lapatinib following a ruling by The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).

The drug is used to fight an aggressive type of advanced breast cancer and NICE's decision follows the request in July this year that the drug should be re-evaluated under the institute's end of life (EOL) supplementary guidance by the Appraisal Committee.

NICE has rejected oral Tyverb (lapatinib) alongside capecitabine and it published the decision in its Appraisal Consultation Document (ACD). It is due to give final guidance on the issue later this year.

Dr Alison Jones, medical oncologist at the University College London Hospital and the Royal Free Hospital, said: "I am disappointed for all the women who would have benefited from lapatinib on the NHS.

"I have witnessed myself that lapatinib can extend the lives of these women. We are now left with very few effective treatment options in cases where Herceptin has stopped working."

The EOL guidance was specially drawn-up to help the small amount of patients trying to gain access to crucial new medicines in their final few months.

In order to bolster the case of lapatinib, GSK provided extra data showing the drug offered a notable lengthening of life and that it met all three of the EOL requirements.

But NICE has decided the drug is not cost-effective for the NHS, despite recognising the benefits and evidence submitted by GSK.

Copyright © Press Association 2009

NICE: Lapatinib - Appraisal Consultation