Now patients are denied 'breakthrough' prostate cancer drug as health watchdogs brand it too expensive
Once-daily pill giving extra months of life is 'too expensive'Abiraterone is latest cancer drug facing an NHS ban
A ‘breakthrough’ drug that gives extra months of life to men with advanced prostate cancer has been rejected for use on the NHS.
The once-daily pill was developed by UK scientists at the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) and trials were partly funded by British charities.
But it has been branded as too expensive by the rationing watchdog the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.
'Not cost-effective': Abiraterone (pictured) is the latest prostate cancer drug to face an NHS ban despite being proven to extend life for men with advanced disease
Deadly toll: Prostate cancer has been described in the past as a low-profile 'Cinderella' disease
Abiraterone is the latest prostate cancer drug to face an NHS ban despite being proven to extend life for men with advanced disease. Last month another drug – Jevtana – was turned down as ‘not cost-effective’.
It is a fresh blow for doctors and patients who hoped a new era of drugs could lessen the deadly toll of prostate cancer, which has been described in the past as a low-profile ‘Cinderella’ disease.
Trials show men taking abiraterone and a steroid survived for nearly 15 months, while men given steroid treatment and a ‘dummy’ pill lived for 11 months on average.
But some patients live far longer than expected, including Britons who have survived on the drug for more than four years after developing advanced disease. The drug also eased pain for twice as many men in the trials.
Bitter blow: Campaigners condemned the draft decision by Nice, which could deny sufferers and their families vital time together
A year’s course of treatment costs 35,000, which Nice says is too expensive.
Campaigners last night condemned the draft decision by Nice. Owen Sharp, chief executive of the Prostate Cancer Charity, which helped fund trials, said: ‘This draft decision is a bitter blow to thousands of men and their families – and must be overturned.’
Patients have been getting abiraterone, also known as Zytiga, through the Cancer Drugs Fund, set up by the Government to pay for treatments not approved by Nice.
But the fund only applies in England until 2014, which denies access to patients in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.