A LIFE-EXTENDING ovarian cancer drug has been rejected for NHS use in Scotland after the medicines watchdog ruled it was not value for money.

The Scottish Medicines Consortium said it could not approve bevacizumab (Avastin) for routine use on the health service because the main case submitted by its manufacturer, Roche, was based on a 7.5mg unlicensed dose which was trialled in Scotland as part of a European study.

There were also "weaknesses" in the additional economic data provided in relation to the licensed 15mg dose.

However, campaigners said the decision was a major blow to the 330 sufferers in Scotland with ovarian cancer who would be eligible for Avastin.

Clinical trials have shown that it prolongs a patient's life by an average of four months compared to chemotherapy alone.

Dr Nicholas Reed, consultant in clinical oncology at the Beatson Oncology Centre, Glasgow, said: "It is disappointing to the oncologists in Scotland who treat ovarian cancer that Avastin has not been made available to us.

"The negative decision from the SMC and the lack of a Cancer Drugs Fund in Scotland deprives our patients of a clinically active and effective drug."

Avastin was also rejected for use on the NHS in England and Wales in August on cost grounds, but patients south of the Border can still routinely access it via England's Cancer Drugs Fund.

Annwen Jones, chief executive of Target Ovarian Cancer, said: "Avastin is the first new treatment for ovarian cancer in 20 years and can prolong the survival of patients who have the highest risk of the disease recurring. It available in England through the Cancer Drugs Fund, so it is frustrating that patients in Scotland are prevented from accessing it."

Roche UK general manager John Melville added: "The Scottish Government must act to prevent Scotland falling behind England in access to innovative drugs."