17 February 2011
Responding to the decision by NICE to recommend Azacitidine as a treatment for myelodyplastic syndrome, chronic myelomonocytic leukaemia, and acute myeloid leukaemia, Mike Hobday, Head of Policy at Macmillan Cancer Support, said:
'This is superb news for cancer patients with rarer cancers. We are extremely pleased with NICE’s decision especially as people with myelodyplastic syndrome, chronic myelomonocytic leukaemia, and acute myeloid leukaemia have often been faced with limited treatment options.
'When the Government’s £200 million fund comes into effect this April it is estimated that an extra 8,000 cancer patients a year could receive cancer treatments, which could improve quality and length of life. But more cancer patients must get the clinically effective drugs their doctors recommend, regardless of their type of cancer or where they live. Tragically and frustratingly this isn’t always happening at present.
'To ensure all cancer patients get better access to treatments, we want the £200 million Cancer Drugs Fund to prioritise drugs for rarer cancers. It is also important that cancer patients are supported to make informed decisions about their drug treatment options and that funding decisions are well monitored and made in a timely and transparent way to avoid a ‘postcode lottery’.
'We look forward to hearing how the £200 million Cancer Drugs Fund will be delivered and hope it will end the inequality around access to treatments that currently exists.'
For more information and support call Macmillan free on 0808 808 00 00 or visit please visit www.macmillan.org.uk/cancerdrugs
For further information, please contact:
Julie Wills, Media & PR Officer (Assistant), Macmillan Cancer Support
020 7840 4933 (Out of hours 07801 307 068)
Notes to Editors:
Exceptional funding: Recommendations for improving access to cancer medicines and delivering better value for the NHS. (2010) Rarer Cancers Foundation.
Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are a group of disorders affecting the bone marrow. They are not types of cancer, but can develop into leukaemia. However, the symptoms are often very similar to those caused by leukaemia, and the treatments used are also similar.
Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) is a cancer of blood-forming cells in the bone marrow.
Chronic Myelomonocytic Leukaemia is a form of myelodysplasia characterized by an increase in the number of circulating white blood cells of monocyte type. It may transform into acute leukaemia or patients may develop problems with infection or bleeding.
Azacitidine was rejected earlier this year because it was not deemed to be a cost-effective treatment. The drug is valued at £63,000 per 'quality adjusted life year' - a measure that takes into account the quality - as well as the length - of a treatment's benefit.
The appraisal process for Azacitidine began a year ago in March 2009 and was reviewed in July 2010