Cancer drug is rejected by regulator

A controversial drug which a cancer-stricken Yorkshire mum believes could prolong her life has been rejected by regulators.

Mum-of-three Trudy Cusworth has terminal breast cancer and her consultant also believes the drug, Avastin, could help her.

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As reported previously in the YEP, Mrs Cusworth, who lives near Selby, will get the medicine from a Government cancer drugs fund.

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Yesterday her MP Nigel Adams (Con, Selby and Ainsty) quizzed Health Secretary Andrew Lansley about the general availability of Avastin.

But today it was rejected by drugs evaluator the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE), which decides what drugs are offered by the NHS.

The organisation decided not to make Avastin routinely available to treat breast cancer which has spread.

It concluded the benefits of using the drug alongside chemotherapy were too small to justify the 23,000 cost, and there was no evidence it could "significantly lengthen a patient's life".

However Mrs Cusworth said: "I think it's disgusting. It doesn't matter if the costs outweigh the benefits - in my opinion somebody's life outweighs somebody's death."

Mr Adams yesterday told the House of Commons: "In this case the emergency cancer drug fund has done its job. But what can the Secretary of State say to assure other cancer patients in North Yorkshire also in desperate need of these life prolonging drugs but who are currently being denied access to them?"

Mr Lansley replied: "I do understand, and I am very pleased, that she was able to take her case with her clinicians through to the panel and it's been approved. What I can say is that the panels are working across the country in order to ensure that where a clinical case is made for additional access to cancer drug treatments, that is already happening."

Avastin manufacturer Roche said new research showed it increased the chance of shrinking tumours in patients with hard to treat breast cancer. Final guidance will be issued next year.

by katie baldwin and mark hookham

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