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Insurers will pay for new cancer drug

Several leading private medical insurers have confirmed that, unlike the NHS, they will pay for a new drug for cancer sufferers.

Bupa, Norwich Union, AXA PPPhealthcare, PruHealth and WPA, have said they will pay for policyholders to receive a cancer treatment drug Velcade.

Velcade, also called bortezomib, is recommended for use in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, countries across Europe and the rest of the world. It costs up to £18,000 per patient and extends life by 18 to 24 months on average.

Multiple myeloma, a blood cancer, kills about 3,000 people a year in England. Velcade was licensed in 2004 and hundreds of patients and their families have benefited from it. Some patients have had to fight their primary care trusts to have the drug. Velcade stops cancer cells from regenerating. It is the only licensed drug for people with multiple myeloma who have relapsed.

NHS patients in England are being refused treatment with Velcade, the only licensed drug for people with multiple myeloma who have relapsed.

The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (Nice) is not recommending Velcade for use on the NHS. Nice says the drug should only be given to those taking part in clinical trials.

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