The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has reversed its decision on prostate cancer drug abiraterone after the manufacturer offered the treatment at a lower price.
Abiraterone costs around £3,000 a month and was initially rejected in February 2012 by NICE for not being cost effective. The decision prompted anger from patients and cancer charities.
The outlook for prostate cancer is generally good, because it usually progresses very slowly. 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.
Currently, there are only two drugs licensed in Britain that are proven to given advanced prostate cancer patients more time: cabazitaxel and abiraterone. Just last week, prostate cancer drug cabazitaxel was turned down for use on the NHS by the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).
During a consultation on abiraterone, the manufacturer of the drug, submitted further information for the committee to consider.
The drug will be provided to the NHS at a discounted price. The scale of the discount has not been made public.
Owen Sharp, the head 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.”
If NICE approves the drug in June, it will have to be offered by the NHS in England and Wales. At the moment, patients in England can access the drug through the Cancer Drugs Fund or through health insurance.
A decision will be made in Northern Ireland after the final recommendation is made by NICE. The Scottish Medicines Consortium has already turned down abiraterone for use on the NHS in Scotland, but is still in discussion with the manufacturers.
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