Welsh Kidney Cancer Patients Receive Drugs

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

Patients in Wales needing kidney cancer drugs that are yet to be approved by NICE, the independent organisation set up to appraise new medicines, will receive them on the NHS in the meantime, Health Minister Edwina Hart announced today.

Last month, Mrs Hart announced a there would be a review of funding requests for sunitinib (Sutent) after concerns were raised over inconsistencies in prescribing the drug across Wales.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) does not currently recommend sunitinib for advanced renal cancer, but is currently reconsidering its advice and is expected to issue firm guidance in the near future.

Prior to that announcement, Mrs Hart has decided to introduce a system to allow patients to have greater access to sunitinib and three other drugs currently being reviewed by NICE for use in advanced renal cancer - Bevacizumab (Avastin), sorafenib (Nexavar) and temsirolimus (Torisel).


Mrs Hart said: "At the end of last year, NICE announced that in the future they would apply different financial criteria for drugs used towards the end of life, and the drugs used for advanced kidney cancer might reasonably come into this category.

This has raised expectations for those patients in whom the drugs are currently not available through the NHS. I think it is unacceptable for these patients to be kept waiting any longer and I am instructing Local Health Boards to provide these drugs for kidney cancer to appropriate patients with immediate effect.

I issue this instruction with the proviso that each request for funding is supported by two cancer specialists. This is a temporary arrangement that will be in place until NICE make their final decision on these drugs.

I have decided to put it in place in order to allay the anxiety felt by patients and their relatives during this interim period.

I stress that this interim arrangement applies only to Bevacizumab (Avastin), sorafenib (Nexavar), sunitinib (Sutent) and temsirolimus (Torisel) currently being reviewed by NICE for use in advanced renal cancer."