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Funding fears for new cancer drugs

Posted on: 04/13/2007

MEDIA RELEASE – for immediate release           10 April 2007
Funding fears for new cancer drugs
Brain tumour organisations fear that two therapies, officially recommended today, may still not reach some patients owing to the ‘post code lottery’.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has announced approval for temozolomide (Temodal) and carmustine implants (Gliadel wafers) to be funded by the NHS.
This brings England and Wales into line with most other developed countries, which already use these therapies as standard care in the treatment of patients newly diagnosed with a highly aggressive type of malignant brain tumour.
The organisations are calling on the new director of the Primary Care Trust Network, David Stout, to ensure that sufficient funding at PCT level should be set aside immediately to ensure patient access. 
NICE’s appraisal of temozolomide and carmustine implants has already taken over two years.
Ella Pybus, speaking on behalf of a consortium made up of Brain Tumour UK, the International Brain Tumour Alliance, Samantha Dickson Brain Tumour Trust and the United Brain Tumour Campaign said: “It will be a cruel blow if treatments for one of the most lethal of all cancers were further delayed because of lack of sufficient funding at PCT level.”
She added: “The NICE change of heart is a step in the right direction for people with brain tumours in England and Wales. But the excessive delay in appraising the therapies has already meant that some patients have missed out. More patients and families will suffer if funding can’t be found quickly.
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“These extremely aggressive brain tumours wait for no-one. We need assurances now that NICE’s recommendations will be implemented uniformly across all of the PCTs so that people suffering from this devastating disease will not be further disadvantaged.”
NICE’s original guidance in 2005 rejected both therapies on the basis of cost effectiveness. Many brain tumour specialists in the UK were so opposed to NICE’s negative recommendation that they signed a joint letter to Secretary of State for Health Patricia Hewitt. Brain tumour patient groups mounted a rigorous and sustained campaign to try to reverse NICE’s decision. A mistake in the way NICE calculated the cost effectiveness of one of the therapies prompted them to re-analyse their appraisal of both treatments which resulted in a reversal of their original guidance. Concern has also been expressed by the brain tumour organisations at the adoption by NICE of pre-conditions for eligibility which could exclude certain groups of patients.
For further information, contact:
Ella Pybus, Brain Tumour UK
Telephone: 01787 374084
Mobile: 07743 482967

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