Cancer-drug refund scheme approved by NICE

The National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has published a further consultation document on bortezomib (Velcade) approving a refund scheme whereby the manufacturer pays back the cost of the drug if response to the treatment is poor.

X-ray of the thorax showing multiple myeloma
X-ray of the thorax showing multiple myeloma

This consultation document comes after an appeal from the drug's manufacturer against the previous draft was upheld. Cancer charities had criticised the previous document saying that it was based more on cost than effectiveness.

Bortezomib is used to treat multiple myeloma and NICE recommend that all suitable patients should be offered treatment. The independent advisory committee for NICE recommends that patients showing full or partial response to the drug should be remain on it and funded by the NHS. However, patients showing a minimal or no response should be taken off the drug and the drug costs refunded by the drug's manufacturer.

The final decision on whether to put this scheme in to practice rests with the manufacturer of bortezomib and the DoH.

Andrew Dillon, NICE chief executive, said: 'We are aware of the challenge that the NHS faces in ensuring that patients can access expensive, but potentially effective, treatments for life-threatening conditions such as cancer. All patients suitable for treatment will get the chance to see if the drug works well for them.'

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