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An Outrage!!! Updated 3/13


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UK's NICE rejects costly Roche lung cancer pill

Fri Mar 9, 2007 12:00 AM GMT

Email This Article | Print This Article | RSS [-] Text [+] LONDON, March 9 (Reuters) - Roche's (ROG.VX: Quote, Profile , Research) once-a-day lung cancer pill Tarceva is of limited use and too expensive to be given on the state health service, Britain's main cost-effectiveness watchdog said on Friday.

The final determination from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is in line with a preliminary decision last November.

The ruling leaves England and Wales, where NICE sets guidelines for medicine use, at odds with Scotland, where the product was recommended for use last year.

It will stoke controversy over access to expensive modern cancer treatments, following a row over whether Herceptin, another Roche product, should be given to women with early breast cancer.

Swiss-based Roche -- the world's biggest maker of cancer drugs -- denounced the latest NICE action as "perverse and flawed" and said it would appeal, arguing the evidence had not been assessed fairly or appropriately.

NICE Chief Executive Andrew Dillon, however, said the data showed prescribing Tarceva was not an effective use of National Health Service resources when compared with using either Sanofi-Aventis' (SASY.PA: Quote, Profile , Research) Taxotere or best supportive care.

Still, he acknowledged evidence on Tarceva was still emerging and said the NICE decision would therefore be reviewed in February 2008.

He also called for further research to see if certain sub-groups of patients would benefit more from the drug. Continued...

© Reuters 2007. All Rights Reserved. | Learn more about Reuters

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Randy, I agree with your assessment and would only add that it's also disgraceful.

I know this isn't a political forum and I respect that. It's just that these are the kind of financial decisions that come from socialized medicine and government controlled health care programs.

End of speech.


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I have followed this story and issue for some time and do not for it to be a Political Forum. I know tht in the US there is not much we can do but we do have about 4 or 5 members from the UK and I post this for them if and when they check in. This has been a problem over there fpor several months and each time they discuss reconsidering and they do the exact same thing and Ban It basically. Just kinda rubs me but wish i could do more about it.

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I agree with both John and Randy. It is shameful to know there are good drugs out there but not be willing to allow their use. My heart breaks for our LC friends in the UK. Would Tarceva's manufacturer be of any help to those in nationalized health care programs? I know they offer financial help programs in the U.S. Just a thought.


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When my father needed Avastin we had to buy it ourselves (around 4000$ a cycle). The same would have been with Tarceva. Both are approved in EC but

whether each individual countrie's health care system pays for it is a different matter. Polish budget can simply not afford it. It seems that even rich countries (like England) are deciding that their budget can not afford it.

I do not think that this is a problem of socialized medicine. If we keep thinking like that we could easily miss what is going on at home (that is in US).

I have a great health care insurance here and if I need Avastin I would get it but ... in the last

two years my drug deductible grew from 5% to 25%.

25% of Avastin is still a lot of money ! And what about the 25% or so of people in US who do not have insurance. What happens to them if they need such drugs ? I know that many go without expensive medicine like Imitrex because at 4$ a pill (without insurance) they just can not afford it. In England everyone is insured. If they were to "uninsure" 25%

of their population their budget just might afford Tarceva.

The new drugs are just too expensive. Period. For

practically any country. Futurists argue that with this "new" medicine we are approaching times when

there will be two kinds of people: those with tons of money living 150 years and those with little money

living 50 years. Scary thought, no ? But, it seems to me, very realistic.

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Dear Randy

Firstly let me thank you for thinking of us in the UK. I have been lobbying my member of parliament about this. I have been in touch with press etc. I have been in close contact with Roy Castle foundation (british lc charity). I did manage to get on TV over here. We are lucky we have access to both tarceva and avastin and Barry is now nearly three years into this disease and although he has stage 3b he is still fit and healthy.

I feel I am banging my head against a brick wall. This organization NICE does not even reveal the formula on which it basis its decisions. It would do starlinist ussr credit and this is the UK.

I have tried to get uk lc patients to help but so far with no success. Maybe they are too ill and their relatives too stressed. There I have vented.

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irms Tarceva ruling


Medical regulators in England and Wales have confirmed an earlier decision not to use the lung cancer drug Tarceva in the NHS, saying that comparable treatments are cheaper.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) said that evidence on Tarceva's effectiveness was still emerging and the decision would be reviewed in 2008.

Cancer Research UK has protested against the decision, saying that trials had shown that non-small cell lung patients were able to benefit from the drug.

"Tarceva is one of the few significant advances against the condition to emerge over the last decade," said medical director of Cancer Research UK Professor John Toy.

"While not a cure, the drug can significantly extend the lives of patients with this commonest form of lung cancer.

"We are committed to making new treatments available and therefore are conducting further research which we hope will ensure that this new treatment is available in the future."

Professor Toy added that patients can access the drug or a placebo through the TOPICAL advanced non-small cell lung cancer trial, supported by Cancer Research UK.


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  • 3 weeks later...


I also wanted to thank you for posting this. We too are fighting for this drug. We have involved the press local MP. I have read of two patients winning the right to use this drug but they had to go to court. We are trying to drum up support for this and I have just set up a website highlighting the issues. Jennie, I know you have just posted on there thanks :) the url is http://www.lc-action4life.co.uk

Take care all,



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