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Prostate cancer drug too expensive

2nd February 2012

The health watchdog for England and Wales has provisionally rejected a prostate cancer drug for NHS use.

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The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) say the benefits of abiraterone are not enough to justify the price the NHS has been asked to pay.

The drug that can extend the life of men with advanced prostate cancer by more than three months and is one of the few drugs available to men in that condition.

NICE chief executive Sir Andrew Dillon acknowledged the drug was effective and has the benefit that it could be taken orally in the patient’s own home.

But he added: “We are therefore disappointed not to be able to recommend it for use on the NHS, however it is an expensive drug.”

The drug costs almost £3,000 for a month’s supply, although the price the NHS has been asked to pay has not been revealed.

However, Owen Sharp, chief executive of The Prostate Cancer Charity, was critical of NICE’s provisional ruling.

He said: “Quite simply, abiraterone prolongs the life of men with incurable prostate cancer.

The draft decision is a bitter blow to thousands of men and their families and must be overturned.”

Some 37,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer in the UK every year and more than 10,000 die from it

Cancer Research UK, which provided support in the development of the drug and could benefit from its royalties, has raised concerns that NICE might have overestimated the number of people who needed the drug.

 

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