OXFORD - Although Britain's National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) last week was able to render a positive recommendation to the U.K.'s National Health Service about the use of Taxol paclitaxel in ovarian cancer, it was blocked from announcing its verdict on the use of taxanes for breast cancer.

Four-fifths of the 4,000 breast cancer patients in England and Wales who would benefit from the taxanes are denied them by the health authority. It is rumored that NICE was willing to recommend the use of Aventis S.A.'s Taxotere docetaxel against breast cancer but was to reject the use of Bristol-Myers Squibb Pharmaceuticals Ltd.'s Taxol in advanced breast cancer. However, BMS and CancerBACUP, a British cancer charity, were able to upend the decision on appeal.