Welsh to get prostate cancer lifeline denied to the English
A life-extending treatment for prostate cancer which was rejected recently for use on the NHS in England will be given to patients for free in Wales.
The Welsh equivalent of the NHS rationing body NICE – the Wales Medicines Strategy Group – has just approved the use of abiraterone for men in the terminal stages of the illness.
But the decision marks an apartheid as the same drug has just been turned down for England by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. NICE ruled it was not ‘cost-effective’.
Denied: NHS patients in England will not be given prostate cancer drug abiraterone but it will be made available to patients in Wales
Abiraterone, which costs 35,000 per patient per year, is given to men with advanced prostate cancer which has spread elsewhere in the body and is resistant to other treatments.
Trials have shown that patients taking the pills with steroids survived for nearly 15 months compared to those given steroids and dummy pills who lived for 11 months on average.
But some patients with advanced prostate cancer have lived for as long as four years.
NICE’s controversial decision in preliminary guidance earlier this month shocked charities, including Cancer Research UK, which say the drug could help many patients.
Currently men can only get it if they apply through the Cancer Drugs Fund, but this is subject to a postcode lottery with certain parts of the country far more willing to foot the bill than others.