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Dismay as prostate drug remains restricted

Thursday June 7th, 2018

Specialists have reacted in dismay after the use of the prostate cancer drug abiraterone remained restricted in England.

The drug, discovered in London, should not be used as a first-line treatment for men with advanced prostate cancer, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence ruled yesterday.

Under current guidelines, patients must receive standard hormone therapy before getting abiraterone.

The Institute for Cancer Research, which discovered it, pointed out that the European Medicines Agency has approved the drug as a first-line treatment for advanced prostate cancer.

The drug works by blocking the production of testosterone.

ICR chief executive Professor Paul Workman said: “Abiraterone has been a game changer for treatment of prostate cancer – extending the lives of men with the disease, and crucially sparing them the side-effects of conventional chemotherapy.

“I am disappointed that men with advanced prostate cancer will not be able to access abiraterone as a first-line treatment. We hope the manufacturer will be able to provide the data NICE needs as soon as possible so that the drug can be made available earlier in treatment.

“I’d also urge both parties to get together to discuss the price of abiraterone, as it is essential that those men who might benefit from earlier access to the drug do not miss out on the grounds of cost.

“It is particularly concerning that some men who are ineligible for the current first-line treatment, docetaxel, should be denied access to abiraterone – and I would urge NICE to consider availability of the drug for these patients as a matter of urgency.”

A NICE spokesperson said: “The NICE appraisal committee found the company’s economic model did not accurately reflect the treatment pathway for people with high-risk hormone-sensitive metastatic prostate cancer.

“And data comparing the clinical effectiveness of abiraterone plus ADT with current standard treatment (docetaxel plus ADT) has not been fully explored. Therefore, the committee concluded there is no plausible cost-effectiveness estimate for abiraterone plus ADT compared with docetaxel plus ADT.”

Tags: Cancer | Men's Health | NHS | Pharmaceuticals | UK News

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