Erbitux refusal shows need for funding review says Cancer Research UK

In collaboration with the Press Association

Funding calculations used by the medical regulator NICE must be reviewed, Cancer Research UK has said.

The comments following NICE's refusal to supply a new cancer drug on the NHS.

The regulator rejected an appeal launched after it said that the benefits of bowel cancer drug Cetuximab are not enough to justify its costs to the NHS.

Research has shown that the drug, which costs a week, reduces tumour size in patients at an advanced stage of the disease, but does not remove them altogether.

"Cancer Research UK finds this decision extremely worrying," said the charity's chief executive Professor Alex Markham.

"We don't understand the cost framework used by NICE to come to this decision and we feel there needs to be a public debate on how much the NHS ought to be spending on any individual cancer patient.

"The UK is one of the slowest countries in Europe to adopt new medicines through the NHS.

"Cetuximab has been available to US cancer patients for three years and it is unacceptable that UK cancer patients have had to wait this long for a disappointing decision that they won't understand."

Professor Markham added that a debate was needed about how pharmaceutical companies agree pricing with the Department of Health.