Cancer research UK’s response to NICE green light for breakthrough prostate cancer drug

Abiraterone offers men whose prostate cancer has come back after chemotherapy crucial extra months of life. Before this decision, they would have been told it is too expensive for the NHS, and only been given access through the Cancer Drugs Fund. But now they will be given the drug routinely on the NHS and without any delay.

Cancer Research UK’s response to NICE and calls for Janssen to lower their price – along with similar calls from other organisations – meant NICE reconsidered their decision using the right criteria.


Dr Harpal Kumar, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said: “This is wonderful news for patients with advanced prostate cancer and, in part, this U turn is down to the public’s disappointment at the initial refusal.


“People’s donations have allowed Cancer Research UK to fund the discovery and early development of abiraterone – now they’ve also helped to ensure prostate cancer patients get access to this important treatment by making their voices heard.”


Dr Kumar added: “Abiraterone was licensed for use in the UK in September last year, after extremely promising clinical trial results. While NICE and Janssen have been considering the value of the drug over the past eight months, men were being told that they would have to get the drug through other routes because it was too expensive, creating unnecessary anxiety and confusion for many.


“Patients must get access to the most effective cancer treatments quickly. The government needs to push on with its ‘early access’ scheme, so patients can have treatments with exceptional early trial results sooner. And the pharmaceutical industry needs to price in a realistic way, based on the potential benefit of the treatment.”


Cancer Research UK is looking forward to seeing the government’s plans for value-based pricing, and hopes it will create incentives for companies to develop more effective treatments at a price the NHS can afford, while still allowing the pharmaceutical industry to remain strong.


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