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UK kidney cancer patients face toxic, out-dated treatments with little hope of change
Date:12/9/2008

l and truly dashed.

For example sunitinib has already been adopted in advanced Western countries as the first-line therapy for patients who show no indication that they will react adversely to the drug.

However, Professor Eisen stresses that although the data on these new drugs is extremely encouraging, and represents the first major breakthrough in advanced kidney cancer in the last 25 years, none of them will cure the condition. But they can extend a patient's life. In the case of sunitinib, some patients have had their life expectancy doubled, giving them an extra year.

Professor Eisen says that the predicted outcome of the NICE consultation is depressing for a number of reasons.

"First, if an intervention which doubles progression-free and overall survival in a disease where nothing else works is deemed to be cost-ineffective, the chances of introducing any new cancer medication must be deemed remote. The prospect is that patients treated within the UK National Health Service must wait until therapies are off-patent and therefore become cheaper.

"Second, the NICE cost-effectiveness analysis is at variance with other cost-effectiveness analyses conducted in the USA, Sweden and other countries. In the media furore that greeted NICE's provisional decision there is no indication that the significant differences between the cost-effectiveness analyses from the UK and elsewhere had caused any pause for thought among the authorities.

"Third, the very great variability of the natural history of kidney cell carcinoma was not considered by NICE. From what we know of these medications already, a minority of patients can benefit very significantly.

"Finally, no provision is made for the importance of gaining even a few months of extra life for patients, despite the fact that these benefits are deemed to be extremely important by all patient groups."

Professor Eisen concludes that if the NHS is
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Contact: Annette Whibley
wizard.media@virgin.net
Wiley-Blackwell
Source:Eurekalert

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