228715 - Cancer: Drugs (Answered)

Keith Vaz
To ask the Secretary of State for Health, how many prescriptions have been issued for the drug Sunitinib in each of the last three years; and what restrictions his Department places on the use of that drug in the NHS.

George Freeman

Sunitinib (Sutent) is mainly used in hospitals, where usage is recorded in volumes rather than numbers of prescription items. The table below provides the published figures for use of sunitinib in the National Health Service in England in milligrams of active ingredient.








(Q1 only)


Sunitinib total mgs





Source: NICE Technology Appraisals in the NHS in England, Innovation Scorecard

It is for NHS England and local clinical commissioning groups to make decisions on which drugs and treatments should be funded by the NHS taking into account guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

NICE has issued technology appraisal guidance that recommends sunitinib as a first-line treatment for patients with advanced and/or metastatic renal cell carcinoma meeting specified clinical criteria and for patients with gastrointestinal stromal tumours meeting specified clinical criteria. NICE does not recommend sunitinib for the second-line treatment of renal cell carcinoma.

NHS commissioners are legally required to fund drugs and treatments recommended in NICE technology appraisal guidance within three months of NICE’s final guidance. Sunitinib is also available to patients with pancreatic neuroendocrine carcinomas through the Cancer Drugs Fund.