NICE confirms Tarceva ruling

In collaboration with the Press Association

Medical regulators in England and Wales have confirmed an earlier decision not to use the lung cancer drug Tarceva in the NHS, saying that comparable treatments are cheaper.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) said that evidence on Tarceva's effectiveness was still emerging and the decision would be reviewed in 2008.

Cancer Research UK has protested against the decision, saying that trials had shown that non-small cell lung patients were able to benefit from the drug.

"Tarceva is one of the few significant advances against the condition to emerge over the last decade," said medical director of Cancer Research UK Professor John Toy.

"While not a cure, the drug can significantly extend the lives of patients with this commonest form of lung cancer.

"We are committed to making new treatments available and therefore are conducting further research which we hope will ensure that this new treatment is available in the future."

Professor Toy added that patients can access the drug or a placebo through the TOPICAL advanced non-small cell lung cancer trial, supported by Cancer Research UK.