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Cancer: Drugs

Volume 458: debated on Wednesday 14 March 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will ask the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence to undertake an appraisal of the kidney cancer drugs (a) Sutent and (b) Nexavar; what responsibilities primary care trusts have to make these drugs available to patients; and if she will make a statement. (125213)

[holding answer 5 March 2007]: The Department has asked the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) to consult on the remit and scope for an appraisal of Nexavar for the treatment of renal cell carcinoma. A final decision on referral of this topic to NICE will be made in April 2007. The Department is currently considering referring Sutent to NICE for appraisal.

In December 2006, the Department issued good practice guidance to the national health service on the managed introduction of new technologies. The guidance updates and clarifies the messages in an earlier Health Service Circular 1999/176 and makes clear to NHS organisations that they should not refuse to fund a treatment simply because NICE guidance does not yet exist. Until NICE has issued final guidance on a treatment, NHS bodies should continue with local arrangements for the managed introduction of new technologies, taking account of the available evidence.