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New prostate cancer drug approved


22 March 2016

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An advanced prostate cancer drug can now be given to men who have not yet had chemotherapy, after a new ruling by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

It means that abiraterone, which is marketed as Zytiga by Janssen, will be available for prostate cancer patients from 1 April .

NICE estimates the move could affect 5,900 men who could now be eligible for treatment for the drug.

An advanced prostate cancer drug can now be given to men who have not yet had chemotherapy, after a new ruling by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

It means that abiraterone, which is marketed as Zytiga by Janssen, will be available for prostate cancer patients from 1 April .

NICE estimates the move could affect 5,900 men who could now be eligible for treatment for the drug.

The move overturns the appraisal committee’s previous draft guidance decision after it said the manufacturer had failed to demonstrate the quality of life and long-term survival of patients on the drug.

Some patients had received the drug through the Cancer Drugs Fund.

Janssen submitted new evidence showing that 14% of a large group of patients treated with the drug in the US were still taking it more than four years later.

The appraisal committee said the new data supported the case for some patients taking the drug for long periods of time.

It currently costs £2,930 for 120 tablets of abiraterone, excluding VAT, but it is anticipated the cost will be reduced to £2,300.

The company has also agreed a patient access scheme which will see the Department of Health paying the new price list for the first ten months of treatment and the company will rebate the cost  of subsequent tablets.

NICE’s director of the centre for health technology evaluation Professor Carole Longson said: "I am very pleased that the new evidence submitted has meant we are able to recommend abiraterone.”

Health charity Prostate Cancer UK welcomed the news that came after it staged an 18-month campaign.

It said the 2014 decision to reject the use of the drug before chemotherapy was a “fiasco”.

“Since then, we’ve urged NICE and the manufacturer to do whatever was necessary to get the treatment approved for routine use without delay,” said the charity.

Prostate Cancer UK's director of support and influencing Heather Blake said: “After 18 months our calls have finally been heard as NICE and the manufacturer have managed to negotiate a way forward. However, it cannot continue to take so ludicrously long to get men what they need.”

She called greater flexibility from NICE as standard and for manufacturers to present best value for money first time around.

“We need to see much more focus on what patients need and deserve, otherwise men will lose out as they continue to be caught in the middle.”

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