New prostate cancer drug that could help to protect bones from disease approved by NHS

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UPDATED:

02:40 GMT, 30 March 2012

Good news: A new drug that protects the bones of patients undergoing prostate cancer treatment is to be approved for use on the NHS

Good news: A new drug that protects the bones of patients undergoing prostate cancer treatment is to be approved for use on the NHS

A new drug that protects the bones of patients undergoing prostate cancer treatment is to be approved for use on the NHS.

The drug, called denosumab, could help thousands of sufferers who are being treated with hormone therapy, which raises the risk of bone loss and leaves them more likely to suffer fractures.

At least 5,000 men each year are treated with hormonal therapy for prostate cancer.

Zoledronic acid is currently the gold standard treatment for patients whose illness threatens the bones but trials show denosumab works better, preventing fractures for three-and-a-half months longer than existing treatments.

It works by stimulating patients’ immune systems to block a protein called rank ligand, reducing the activity of cells that break down bone. This has the effect of increasing bone density and strength.

The 1-a-day drug, which is being co-marketed by Amgen and GlaxoSmithKline, and is given as a six-monthly jab, was approved in 2010 for NHS use in women with osteoporosis. It was shown to dramatically cut the number of spine and hip fractures.

Owen Sharp, Chief Executive of The Prostate Cancer Charity, said Nice should now reconsider its stance on prostate cancer drugs.

He said ‘This draft decision on denosumab is good news for men with
prostate cancer and sends an encouraging message to men in the final
stages of the disease that their needs have not been forgotten.

Treatment: The drug, called denosumab, could help thousands of sufferers who are being treated with hormone therapy, which raises the risk of bone loss and leaves them more likely to suffer fractures

Treatment: The drug, called denosumab, could help thousands of sufferers who are being treated with hormone therapy, which raises the risk of bone loss and leaves them more likely to suffer fractures

‘This treatment is key in helping to minimise the risk of complications
once prostate cancer has spread to a man’s bones. Although it will not
extend lives, this simple injection gives these men the chance of a much
better quality of life. We commend NICE for provisionally recommending
that this treatment be made widely available.

‘Men with advanced prostate cancer have recently faced a string of
bitter disappointments as other new treatments which could extend and
improve their lives have not been made available on the NHS, most
noticeably, breakthrough end of life drug abiraterone.

‘We strongly hope that this positive news paves the way for NICE to
reverse its draft decision not to provide access to abiraterone on the
NHS in England and Wales, as a first step towards the drug being made
available to all men who need it on the NHS throughout the UK.’