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Novartis disappointed by NICE ruling

Novartis Oncology strongly disagrees with the NICE decision to deny advanced kidney cancer patients in the UK access to Afinitor

In a press statement issued on July 2, Novartis Oncology said it is extremely disappointed by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) decision not to recommend Afinitor in its Final Appraisal Determination (FAD).

Afinitor is the only licensed treatment proven effective for advanced kidney cancer patients who have failed on the only NICE approved first-line therapy. NICE based its decision on the Evidence Review Group's (ERG) estimate for Afinitor's cost effectiveness, despite NICE accepting that the ERG's estimate of overall survival for patients receiving best supportive care (ie when no active treatment is given to treat the disease itself) was higher than observed in clinical practice. 

According to Panos Alexakos, oncology general manager for Novartis UK and Ireland: "In making its final ruling, NICE has completely disregarded recommendations from the patient and medical community, as well as ignoring the current government commitment to improve access to cancer treatment for UK patients."

Dr Thomas Powles, consultant medical oncologist at Barts and the London NHS Trust commented: "The drug is currently the only effective agent in this setting and is used widely throughout the world.  It leaves a relatively small group of patients without any treatment options prior to their death. NICE's rejection of this drug is based on cost issues rather than a lack of clinical benefit."

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) approved Afinitor for the treatment of advanced kidney cancer after failure of treatments that prevent the growth of the tumour's blood vessels on August 3, 2009.

Afinitor is reimbursed in other EU countries including Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Slovakia and Switzerland.

5th July 2010

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