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Cancer: Sunitinib

Volume 461: debated on Thursday 21 June 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what guidance her Department gives to primary care trusts for the provision of the drug sunitinib (Sutent) to cancer patients on the NHS; (144632)

(2) if she will ensure that the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence makes an early assessment of the effectiveness of sunitinib (Sutent) for the treatment of cancer patients;

(3) what assessment her Department has made of the efficacy of the drug sunitinib (Sutent) for treating cancer patients.

Guidance issued by the Department makes it clear that it is not acceptable for national health service organisations to refuse to fund a treatment simply because it has not been appraised by National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). Pending final guidance, NHS bodies should continue to make local decisions on the use of sunitinib (Sutent), taking account of the available evidence.

The Department referred sunitinib to NICE on 19 June 2007 for appraisal as part of its 14th work programme.

The safety, quality and efficacy of a drug is assessed as part of the process for granting a marketing authorisation. Sunitinib has been approved by the European Medicines Evaluation Agency, with contributions from the United Kingdom via membership of its scientific advisory committee, the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human use, for use in the European Union to treat patients with renal cell carcinoma and gastrointestinal stomal tumour. The Department has undertaken no separate assessment of the efficacy of sunitinib.