The UK’s clinical- and cost-effectiveness body, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence has issued a preliminary recommendation that Sanofi-Aventis’ Eloxatin (oxaliplatin) be made available on the NHS as a treatment option for patients with advanced colorectal cancer.

Specifically, the product will be available in combination with 5-fluorouracil and folinic acid in the first- or second-line treatment of advanced colorectal cancer. In addition, NICE also backed Pfizer’s Campto (irinotecan) in combination with 5-FU/FA as first- or second-line therapy. Final guidance is expected to be published later this year.

NICE had previously restricted Eloxatin’s use in colorectal cancer patients whose disease had only spread to the liver and might be operable after treatment, saying that routine first line treatment was not cost-effective [[08/03/02e]]. Sanofi-Aventis says that the move brings England and Wales in line with much of Europe and the USA where such combination therapy is widely accepted as a first-line treatment option.

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the UK after breast and lung. Every day, 95 people in the UK are diagnosed with the disease, approximately 54% of whom already have advanced disease at the time of diagnosis.