A breakthrough prostate cancer drug could be available for people with health insurance by Christmas this year.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, with about 36,000 diagnosed with the disease each year. Unlike many other cancers, prostate cancer usually progresses very slowly, and it can usually be cured if it is treated in its early stages.
However, if the cancer spreads from the prostate to other parts of the body, it cannot be cured, and treatment is focused on prolonging life and relieving symptoms.
Enzalutamide, previously known as ‘MDV3100’, has been found to extend the lives of those with prostate cancer that has spread to other organs by an average of five months, from 13.5 to 18.5 months.
Not only does it extend life, but it also significantly improves the quality of it, by reducing pain, increasing energy and renewing appetite.
Dr Gerhardt Attard, who has helped lead clinical trials at the Institute for Cancer Research (ICR), said: ‘They have come in and said, ‘I’ve just played a full round of golf, which I haven’t been able to do in two years.’
Drugs firm Astellas has submitted an application to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to be able to market it, and is hopeful that it could be available to prescribe by the end of this year.
Patients with private medical insurance will have access to Enzalutamide as soon as it is approved, because full cancer cover covers the cost of all licensed drugs.
But the drug will not be available widely on the NHS until it has been given the approval by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. This process can take years- similar prostate cancer drug Abiraterone has only just been recommended for treatment on the NHS after over a year.
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