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Volume 447: debated on Thursday 22 June 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what Government policy is on the availability of Avastin for the treatment of bowel cancer. (75848)

Bevacizumab (Avastin) in combination with irinotecan, is currently licensed for the first-line treatment of patients with metastatic bowel cancer. The National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is currently assessing the use of Avastin in the treatment of bowel cancer and final guidance from NICE is expected in November 2006.

In the interim period, the Department has made clear to the national health service, in guidance issued in 1999, that primary care trusts should not refuse to fund specific drugs or treatments simply because they have not yet been appraised by NICE. In these circumstances health bodies are expected to reach their own decisions on whether to use the drug based on their assessment of the available evidence.