Cancer drug Velcade has been banned in England because the Government's drugs rationing watchdog, National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has refused to fund treatment, according to last night's claims.
NICE has planned to announce next week that Velcade should not be offered on the NHS to treat multiple myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow. Presently a course of Velcade has been estimated to cost between £9,000 and £18,000 and was already approved for use in Scotland in 1994.
Cancer sufferers and cancer charities criticized the decision by NICE, saying this was their latest attempt saving the Government money by rejecting drugs that increase life expectancy. Since June, NICE has refused to endorse five treatments including treatment for bowel cancer, leukaemia and breast cancer, as well as Alzheimer's disease that would grant an extension to peoples' lives suffering from these diseases.
As one cancer sufferer said: "Are they saying a Scottish life is worth more than an English life? "They are effectively saying to people with incurable diseases, 'sit down in a darkened room and die'."
NICE has refused to comment on next week's announcement. A NICE spokesman said: "NICE's expert advisers review all the evidence on cancer treatments to determine whether they add benefits for patients when compared to other treatments that are already available.
"The benefits that we assess include whether a drug extends life, and whether a drug improves patients' quality of life."
A Department of Health spokesman has refused to comment until the guidance was published.