NICE rejects Novartis kidney cancer drug

LONDON Fri Jul 2, 2010 12:17am BST

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LONDON (Reuters) - Novartis AG's cancer drug Afinitor has been rejected for patients with kidney cancer by the health costs watchdog, which says it is too pricey for the National Health Service (NHS).

The drug, known generically as everolimus, was being considered for the second line treatment of advanced renal cell carcinoma, but the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) said it did not provide enough benefit to patients to justify its high cost.

"We are disappointed not to be able to recommend everolimus as a second line treatment option," NICE chief executive Andrew Dillon said in a statement. "However, we have to ensure that the money available to the NHS is used to best effect, particularly when NHS funds, like the rest of the public sector, is under considerable financial pressure."

The decision was criticised by advocacy groups, who said it was "another disappointing blow" after NICE last year rebuffed three other drugs for kidney cancer patients.

"Once again NICE has disappointed the thousands of kidney cancer sufferers in the UK by not approving everolimus, a drug which gives terminal kidney cancer patients and their families some hope," said Nick Turkentine of the James Whale Fund for Kidney Cancer.

NICE has ruled that only Pfizer's cancer drug Sutent will be reimbursed for kidney cancer patients on the NHS, with Roche's Avastin, Bayer's Nexavar and Pfizer's Torisel also rejected as not cost-effective.

(Reporting by Kate Kelland, editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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