Thousands of men with advanced prostate cancer will be denied life-extending wonder drug because NHS watchdog says £30,000-a-year cost per treatment is too high
- The drug abiraterone cuts the risk of men dying within three years by a third
- Calls for the drug to be routinely offered to men have been rejected by NICE
- The drug blocks testosterone production and slows cancer growth and spread
Thousands of men with advanced prostate cancer will be denied a life-extending drug after officials deemed it was not cost-effective.
The drug abiraterone cuts the risk of men dying within three years by a third.
But the tablets are only offered on the NHS after patients have had gruelling chemotherapy or stopped responding to standard hormone drugs.
Yesterday, calls for abiraterone to be routinely offered to men from the outset of treatment were rejected by NICE.
The drug abiraterone cuts the risk of men dying within three years by a third
The medicine watchdog said: ‘[We] felt that the latest evidence did not accurately reflect the efficacy of abiraterone as there were concerns that the trials may have overestimated the efficacy of this treatment.
‘The price was also higher than the range normally considered a cost-effective use of NHS resources.’
Abiraterone costs more than £30,000 a year, compared to about £5,000 to treat a man with chemotherapy.
The drug, developed by the Institute of Cancer Research in London, works by blocking the production of testosterone, slowing down cancer growth and spread.
Prostate cancer affects about 50,000 men a year in the UK and kills 12,000.
The Daily Mail has campaigned for better treatment for men with the disease for two decades.
In April, the coronavirus crisis saw abiraterone made available for three months for men to take at home, sparing them the need for chemotherapy in hospital.
The drug, developed by the Institute of Cancer Research in London, works by blocking the production of testosterone, slowing down cancer growth and spread. Pictured above are prostate cancer cells in a 3D illustration
Prostate Cancer UK called for NICE to reverse its decision, adding that – in the past two years – 4,300 men in the UK would have had their lives extended by about 15 months had they received the drug.
It also puts England and Wales out of step with Scotland, where it was approved as a first-line treatment in January.
Experts say the news is particularly devastating for older and frailer men who are often not able to receive chemotherapy due to the serious side effects.
Oncologist Dr Danish Mazhar, from Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, said: ‘Evidence shows that abiraterone has far fewer adverse side effects compared with chemotherapy and could give these men the additional months of life that they would otherwise miss out on.’