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Roche still talking to Nice on Avastin PDF Print Email


Avastin (bevacizumab), which costs about £1,800 a month, has been shown to shrink tumours in 78% of patients when it is added to chemotherapy drugs capecitabine and oxaliplatin. This can then make those patients eligible for surgery although the drug is not a cure.

Avastin is suitable for patients with advanced (metastatic) bowel cancer, where the disease has spread around the body, and could potentially extend the lives of some 6,000 people a year in the UK.

Roche offered a patient access scheme to reduce the cost of Avastin, which would have seen a cap on its cost at 12 months and free oxaliplatin. Roche said this would have reduced the price to £36,000 per quality adjusted life year (QALY), above the £30,000 threshold used by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) which rejected the drug in a draft recommendation.


Meanwhile, Dr Carole Longson, director of the health technology evaluation centre at NICE, said the draft guidance is out for consultation. However, she said: "The committee felt that the scheme does not reflect routine clinical practice, that the administration costs were likely to be higher than the manufacturer had indicated, and that it was by no means certain that the impact of the scheme on the cost effectiveness of bevacizumab would be in line with the manufacturer's claims.

In a statement, Roche said it was "confident" it could continue to work with Nice to make Avastin available.

"The UK is now virtually the only country in the developed world not to provide Avastin for bowel cancer through the state healthcare service," the statement said.

John Melville, general manager at Roche UK, said: "We are in an unfortunate passport prescribing situation with Avastin whereby patients in Australia, Canada and most of Europe gain access, but patients in the UK, Latvia and Poland don't."

In clinical trials, adding Avastin to oxaliplatin-based chemotherapy typically increased survival to 21.3 months from 19.9 months with chemotherapy.