The UK National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has rejected using NHS resources to provide two new leukaemia drugs based on their high cost and insufficient evidence to prove that they work.

The drugs: dasatinib (made by Bristol Myers-Squibb) and nilotinib (produced by Novartis) are indicated for patients with chronic myeloid leukaemia where treatment with imatinib has failed due to resistance and/or intolerance.

According to NICE, during the appraisal process, very little evidence was presented to establish the efficacy of either dasatinib or nilotinib compared to the current treatment. The cost of the treatments was also considered to be too high for the benefit they appear to provide.

NICE clinical and public health director professor Peter Littlejohns said that although there is some evidence to suggest the drugs do work, the quality of evidence was very poor.

“This, coupled with the very high cost, meant that the independent appraisal committee could not recommend these drugs as an appropriate use of NHS resources,” he said.

“It would be heartening to hear that they are prepared to share some of the very high cost of the drugs with the NHS.”

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Manufacturers have been given the opportunity to provide further evidence for the committee to consider at its next meeting on 13 January 2010.