England and Wales' cost watchdog has rejected Merck KGaA’s Erbitux, Roche’s Avastin and Amgen's Vectibix as second-line treatments for advanced colon cancer.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has issued final draft guidance not recommending the use of Erbitux (cetuximab) Avastin (bevacizumab) and Vectibix (panitumumab) for the treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer that has progressed after first-line chemotherapy. None of the treatments met the criteria to be considered under NICE’s special arrangements for drugs to help people facing the end of their lives.

Sir Andrew Dillon, NICE chief executive said that "we have already recommended six treatments for various stages of colorectal cancer and are disappointed not to be able to add these three drugs to the list". However, he added that "we have to be confident that the benefits that drugs offer patients really do justify what the NHS will have to pay for them".

He concluded by saying that the independent appraisal committee which drafted the recommendations "does not feel it has enough evidence, especially in the case of bevacizumab, to feel confident in recommending these drugs for use on the NHS". NICE also noted that none of these treatments have been approved for second-ine use of metastatic colorectal cancer in Scotland.

NICE has previously recommended irinotecan, oxaliplatin, capecitabine, tegafur with uracil and cetuximab for the treatment of various stages of colorectal cancer.