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Archive for June 4th, 2007

Anticancer Drug Refund

Posted by David Bradley on June 4th, 2007

Velcade structureDrug manufacturer Janssen-Cilag is to offer the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) a refund on the cost of using its anticancer drug Velcade (bortezomib) if patients fail to respond. The unprecedented agreement made with National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence could cut overall costs for for the cash-strapped NHS which has come under fire from the media and patients’ advocacy groups for not making such drugs more widely available.

Velcade has been shown to extend life expectancy by many months for sufferers of the bone cancer myeloma, the usual prognosis for multiple myeloma is about 3-5 years, but trials of velcade were apparently so successful that they were halted early and the drug given approval.

The drug is one of a new class of anticancer drugs known as proteasome inhibitors. Proteasomes are large protein complexes that break down unwanted or damaged proteins in the cell. By inhibiting the activity of these waste disposal units in cancer cells it is possible to kill those cells as lethal levels of proteins accumulate.