The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) ruled the drug Everolimus (Afinitor) too expensive to fund despite the fact that it’s a proven life prolonging drug for kidney cancer patients. This is especially pertinent to kidney cancer patients as it’s a type of cancer that is very difficult to treat. It cannot be treated with chemotherapy or radiation. Once kidney cancer spreads, then these medications are the only hope left for most of these patients. Clinicians and nurses have only one drug with which to try to help those patients facing a terminal diagnosis. Kidney cancer patients desperately need a second treatment option so that clinicians can offer some hope and comfort to both patients and families trying to come to terms with this devastating disease.
Rose Woodward, Head of Patient Support at the James Whale Fund for Kidney Cancer, said “Kidney cancer patients have seen so much money go into the NHS in the past 10 years – so many initiatives, so many targets, so many programmes. What we would really like is for every politician, regardless of what party they belong to, to get together with the Department of Health Mandarins and to listen. Then act on what patients and their families are saying. We want cancer care in the UK to rival the best in the world – it is ironic and very sad that on a day when Gordon Brown promises one to one care for cancer patients NICE issue a statement denying clinicians the chance to offer Everolimus (Afinitor), a clinically effective “end of life” treatment for kidney cancer patients”.
Dr Thomas Powles Trustee and Medical Advisor of the James Whale Fund for Kidney Cancer: “Everolimus (Afinitor) offers kidney cancer patients a clear clinical benefit and is a breakthrough in treating the disease. Its recent rejection by NICE is based on economic rather than clinical grounds. It leaves kidney cancer patients in the UK at a major disadvantage compared to the rest of Europe and the United States, as there are no other options available for this group of patients. This decision is very out of touch with the patient’s needs”.
The Fund believes that patients with kidney cancer should not be penalised because they suffer from a rare cancer; the NHS should ensure all cancer patients are treated fairly and equally. James Whale, founder and chairman of the James Whale Fund and a kidney cancer survivor says “As someone who has been directly affected by kidney cancer, this decision is scandalous as NICE agrees Everolimus (Afinitor) is clinically effective as a second line treatment for kidney cancer. I find it incomprehensible that the government spends more on NICE decision making committees than it would spend if they gave kidney cancer patients this drug.
The NICE decision means our UK kidney cancer patients will die prematurely compared to the rest of the world. This is so obviously a decision based on lack of funding because NICE accepts the drug works. It’s a cruel decision that will cause kidney cancer patients and families huge distress at a time they should be looked after by the NHS and not just abandoned.
About the Fund: The James Whale Fund is the UK’s leading kidney cancer charity and was set up in 2006 by the broadcaster James Whale who lost a kidney to cancer in the year 2000. Today James continues to lead a full and busy life, as do the majority of people who are diagnosed and treated early. Every year almost 7000 people in the UK learn that they have kidney cancer; that’s over 16 people a day. And yet the condition – the eigth most common cancer among men – rarely attracts much public attention. Our mission at the James Whale Fund is to try and change that.
For more information about The James Whale Fund for Kidney Cancer please visit www.jameswhalefund.org