NICE approves prostate cancer drug

Drug was previously turned down

A drug used to treat advanced stage prostate cancer that was initially turned down by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has now been approved by the body.

In new draft guidance published today, NICE recommended the use of abiraterone for the treatment of prostate cancer after the drug’s manufacturer offered it at a discounted price.

NICE rejected the drug – which can extend life by as much as three months - in February 2012 for not being cost effective enough.

But today Sir Andrew Dillon, chief executive of NICE, said that Janssen, the manufacturer of abiraterone, has since submitted further information.

He said: “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“We are very pleased that Janssen's submission to our consultation means that we are able to produce draft guidance recommending abiraterone - it is an effective treatment, potentially extending life by more than three months, and it also allows patients to be treated at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.”

The draft guidance is now with consultees and until final guidance is issued, NHS bodies are instructed to make decisions locally on the funding of specific treatments.

The U-turn has been welcomed by the Prostate Cancer Charity.

Owen Sharp, chief executive of the Prostate Cancer Charity, said: "This announcement represents a resounding triumph for each of the thousands of men with advanced prostate cancer in England and Wales who know just how much the prospect of precious extra time with their loved ones really means.

“We are delighted that NICE has overturned its earlier decision after reviewing the evidence. We are also pleased that the manufacturer responded to our call to deliver a further reduction in price.”

But he added that the drug should be made available to those living in Scotland too, and said the charity will continue to campaign until the drug is available on the NHS for all men who need it in the UK.

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