Prostate cancer drug cabazitaxel, marketed as JEVTANA, has been turned down for use on the NHS by the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).
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.
NICE has already made a draft decision to not fund abiraterone on the NHS, but this could change before the final decision. However, cabazitaxel has been turned down for use on the NHS- a final decision that cannot be altered.
Cabazitaxel is said to only extend the life of advanced prostate cancer sufferers by three months, and it is also associated with some serious side effects.
At £22,000, NICE does not believe that cabazitaxel is a cost effective drug.
But critics say that two new drugs give some patients much longer than three or four extra months and do not cost as much as NICE claims.
The only way patients can now access cabazitaxel is through the government Cancer Drugs Fund, meeting the costs privately, or by claiming on health insurance. The Cancer Drugs Fund operates very differently around the country, and experts fear the re-emergence of a postcode lottery.
Owen Sharp, chief executive of The Prostate Cancer Charity, said: "There is now even more riding on NICE’s final decision regarding abiraterone."
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© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2012