Prostate cancer patients face another fight after drug ruling

Prostate cancer patients already fighting to regain their health are today caught in the latest skirmish over the cost of treatment.

A bid to use the drug Abiraterone before chemotherapy has been rejected by officials at the National Institute for Health and Care (Nice), the drug approval body for the NHS.

A life-extending drug to tackle prostate cancer has been rejected by Nice. Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

At almost £3,000 per patient per month Nice says the benefits don't justify the price.

The decision has triggered a row which shakes at the foundations of how the value of drugs is measured.

The drug company Janssen is questioning how the organisation reached their decision.

It is looking like this system is coming apart at the seams. In their statement Health officials at Nice told me they have misgivings about the company's clinical results.

We know how important it is for patients to have the option to delay chemotherapy and its associated side effects, so we are disappointed not to be able to recommend Abiraterone for use in this way.

However, the manufacturer's own economic model demonstrated that the drug does not offer enough benefit to justify its price.

– Nice

Today's decision comes just a week after a breast cancer drug was rejected on cost grounds.

In the increasingly complex junction between public health and private drugs - the idea that we cannot put a price on health looks ever more fanciful.