Prostate cancer drug that can extend patients' lives by three months should be available on the NHS, says health watchdog

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UPDATED:

06:37 GMT, 16 May 2012

NICE has said that the NHS should give patients with advanced prostate cancer Zytiga as it can extend their lives by more than three months

NICE has said that the NHS should give patients with advanced prostate cancer Zytiga as it can extend their lives by more than three months

A drug to treat advanced prostate cancer should be given to patients on the NHS, a health watchdog has said.

Abirateron, marketed as Zytiga, can extend the lives of late-stage cancer sufferers by more than three months.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) revised its recommendations after fresh information from manufacturer Janssen, and the new draft guidance was welcomed by experts.

Professor Alan Ashworth, chief executive of the Institute of Cancer Research, said: 'We are delighted by today's decision to allow patients with advanced prostate cancer to receive abiraterone on the NHS.

'This drug was discovered at the Institute of Cancer Research and is the result of more than two decades of dedicated work by our scientists and collaborators.

'In clinical trials of men with advanced prostate cancer who have already tried chemotherapy, it has been shown to extend life by an average of four months and improve quality of life.'

Each year around 37,000 men in the UK are diagnosed with prostate cancer and 10,000 die from the disease. It is the second most common cause of cancer death in men, accounting for 13 per cent.

Sir Andrew Dillon, chief executive of Nice, said: 'During the consultation on the draft guidance Janssen, the manufacturer of the drug, submitted further information for the committee to consider.

Sir Andrew Dillon said that changes to factors by the drug manufacture enabled the committee to revise its preliminary recommendation and recommend the drug for use on the NHS

Sir Andrew Dillon said that changes to factors by the drug manufacture enabled the committee to revise its preliminary recommendation and recommend the drug for use on the NHS

'This included a revised patient access scheme which involves providing the drug to the NHS at a discounted price, further information on which patients would benefit most and clarification on how many patients could receive the drug.

'These factors enabled the committee to revise its preliminary recommendation and now recommend the drug for use on the NHS.

'We are very pleased that Janssen's submission to our consultation means that we are able to produce draft guidance recommending abiraterone – it is an effective treatment, potentially extending life by more than three months, and it also allows patients to be treated at home as it can be taken orally.'

As Nice has not issued final guidance there is a chance the decision could be appealed against, and NHS bodies should make decisions locally on the funding of specific treatments.

Nice recommended the use of abiraterone in combination with prednisone or prednisolone for the treatment of castration-resistant metastatic prostate cancer that has progressed after one docetaxel-containing therapy.