United Kingdom

Thousands of men with prostate cancer will be denied life-extending drug

Thousands of men with advanced prostate cancer are to be denied a life-extending drug after charities failed to get it approved for the NHS.

Abiraterone gives patients an extra 15 months on average, and cuts the risk of them dying within three years by a third.

But the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), which approves NHS drugs, ruled it was not cost effective and should not be offered routinely.

Abiraterone costs £35,500 a year privately, although the amount the NHS pays is not known. Prostate cancer affects 50,000 men a year in the UK and kills 12,000.

In October, a panel upheld complaints from manufacturer Janssen and the charity Prostate Cancer UK that the decision NICE made in June was flawed. 

Abiraterone gives patients an extra 15 months on average, and cuts the risk of them dying within three years by a third

But NICE revealed yesterday it intended to reject the drug again, saying it was too expensive as a first-line treatment.

It will remain available only to men who have had chemotherapy or stopped responding to hormone drugs.

The decision is open to public consultation until February 16, but charities say draft decisions rarely change.

Heather Blake, of Prostate Cancer UK, said: ‘We urge the manufacturer to think of the men at the heart of this struggle and price this treatment at a cost the NHS can afford.’

NICE’s decision applies to England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Scotland made the drug available to all a year ago.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), which approves NHS drugs, ruled it was not cost effective and should not be offered routinely. Picture: Stock

A new treatment can double remission time for patients with the UK’s most common blood cancer.

Every year 5,800 people are diagnosed with multiple myeloma in the UK. It is incurable, but sufferers enter a period of remission when the cancer, which affects the immune system, is kept at bay by chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant.

The average time before a relapse is 28.9 months. But from today, around 1,150 people in England newly diagnosed with the disease can take lenalidomide, which extends remission by an extra 2.3 years.

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