New drugs for cancer treatments

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SIX new treatments have recently been made available for patients battling cancer.

Three have been funded using additional money allocated by the government to improve access to new cancer drugs, while the others have been paid for using mainstream NHS funding.

The North of England Cancer Drugs Approvals Group (NECDAG) agreed to the applications from cancer doctors for treatments for pancreatic, prostate, skin, stomach and breast cancers.

Ken Bremner, chair of NECDAG, said: “Where there is strong evidence to show clinical benefits from new cancer treatments we continue to make them available using mainstream NHS funding.

“However, the additional money from the government means that across the region there are around 600 patients benefiting from new cancer drugs that the NHS would not have been able to fund previously.

“Before we had this additional money for cancer drugs, we had to make very difficult decisions about the funding of expensive treatments which we know offer only a limited extension to life and sometimes which have shown relatively small clinical benefits.

“One of the drugs we have just approved – Ipilimumab – is possibly the most expensive drug we have ever considered, costing in excess of £90,000 per patient.

“We recognise how important it is to patients and their families to have access to these treatments and we know that these decisions are very much welcomed by clinicians and by patients and their families.”

The new treatments are:

• Folfirinox for advanced pancreatic cancer;

• Degarelix for advanced prostate cancer;

• Abiraterone Acetate with prednisone or prednisolone for advanced prostate cancer;

• Ipilimumab for malignant melanoma, an aggressive form of skin cancer;

• Imatinib for patients who have been treated for stomach cancer to reduce the risk of the disease recurring;

• Bevacizumab (Avastin) and Capecitabine for breast cancer that has spread.

Doctors working in cancer care will continue to bring applications for new treatments that have not been considered by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) to NECDAG.

Those that do not meet the criteria for mainstream NHS funding will be considered for funding by NECDAG.