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Cancer Research UK: Comment on preliminary NICE decision on lung cancer drugs

Monday, 13 Nov 2006 13:20

Cancer Research UK reacts to the preliminary decision by NICE not to recommend Tarceva (erlotinib) for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer

Cancer Research UK's Chief Executive Professor Alex Markham said:

"It is deeply disappointing to know that if these current recommendations stand, Tarceva will not be available to patients in England. NICE reports a lack of direct evidence about the benefits of Tarceva compared with the drug docetaxel but lack of evidence does not mean evidence of a lack of benefit. Non-small cell lung cancer is very difficult to treat, and Tarceva is one of the few significant advances against the condition to emerge over the last decade. While not a cure, the drug can significantly extend the lives of patients with this form of lung cancer.

"The results of ongoing clinical trials using Tarceva - funded by Cancer Research UK and others - are expected to reveal further important comparative information about the likely benefits of the drug. In the meantime we believe the drug should continue to be made available to those who could benefit from it. Tarceva is used as a standard treatment in many other European countries. It is also available to certain patients in Scotland and it would be incomprehensible for such a drug to be available to patients in Edinburgh but not Newcastle.

"We will be writing to NICE to express our opposition to this decision and urge the appraisal committee to reconsider its position, so that patients throughout the UK can benefit from this valuable treatment."


For media enquiries please contact Nick Stewart on 020 7061 8317 or, out-of-hours, the duty press officer on 07050 264 059.

Notes to editors

Link to the preliminary recommendations (posted today on the NICE website):


For information about lung cancer and its treatment, visit:




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