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Teacher 'proof' cancer drug works

A teacher who was diagnosed with terminal bowel cancer said she was extremely disappointed that the health watchdog turned down a "life-saving" drug for use on the NHS.

Barbara Moss said that she was "living proof" Avastin (bevacizumab) works.

In November 2006, the 55-year-old was given just three months to live after doctors discovered her advanced bowel cancer had spread to her liver.

After two treatments of Avastin, her grapefruit-sized tumour shrank to half its size and she was operated on by surgeons. She has been in remission for 18 months.

Speaking from Brittany, France, where she is holidaying with her husband Mark, 48, Mrs Moss said the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) had put a "value on life" after it said the price was too high for the extra benefit it gives patients.

Mrs Moss, from Worcester, said: "I am living proof that Avastin works. I have seen people dying who were less ill than I was. It seems immoral to me that, as a result of negative Nice decisions like this one, people's choice of living or dying depends on whether they can afford a drug because it isn't available to them on the NHS."

Avastin costs almost £21,000 per patient and an estimated 6,500 people per year could be eligible for the drug.

Clinical data submitted by Roche to the watchdog shows it can typically offer patients an extra six weeks of life when added to the chemotherapy drugs capecitabine and oxaliplatin.

Data also suggests the trio of drugs means 78% of patients see their liver tumours shrink to such a degree that they are eligible for potentially life-saving surgery.

Sir Andrew Dillon, chief executive of Nice, said: "We are disappointed not to be able to recommend bevacizumab as well but we have to be confident that the benefits justify the considerable cost of this drug."

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