'Milestone' prostate cancer drug withheld due to NHS rationing

A drug which combats prostate cancer hailed as a "milestone" may not be readily available to every patient on the NHS after drug guidelines were revised, it has emerged.

Prostate cancer drug restrictions a 'cruel twist'

Nice's decision to withhold a breakthrough prostate cancer drug is a "cruel twist" as it comes "just days" after a study confirmed its success, campaigners have said.

Prostate Cancer UK called on Nice, who vet the cost effectiveness of medicine for NHS patients, to change its "post-chemo" policy on new drugs.

Enzalutamide is already licensed for those who've had chemotherapy but this trial will hopefully establish a robust base of evidence to demonstrate that it should be available beforehand.

This is good news but sadly won't help the one man an hour who dies of prostate cancer at present.

We need to see drugs like enzalutamide available sooner rather than later, and so it's a cruel twist that this study comes just days after Nice ruled out the drug for men who have already had chemotherapy and the only other drug available at this stage, abiraterone.

– Mikis Euripides, policy director at Prostate Cancer UK

Read: 'Lack of evidence' behind prostate cancer drug decision

'Lack of evidence' behind prostate cancer drug decision

A lack of evidence is behind the NHS' decision to withhold a breakthrough prostate cancer drug from patients who have already been treated using another new generation drug, Nice said.

A spokeswoman for Nice said the committee were unable to "draw any conclusions" about what would happen if "milestone" enzalutamide was used by prostate cancer sufferers who had also taken abiraterone.

In the trial data provided by the manufacturer of enzalutamide none of the patients had received previous treatment with abiraterone, therefore the committee was not able to draw any conclusions about the effectiveness of enzalutamide after previous abiraterone treatment, and this is reflected in the recommendations.

We would welcome any additional data the manufacturer of enzalutamide can provide.

– Nice spokeswoman

Advertisement

NHS restricts use of 'milestone' prostate cancer drug

Prostate cancer medicine hailed as a "milestone" breakthrough may not be available to every patient after a revision of the drug guidelines, according to the NHS.

Read: Men 'dying through ignorance' of prostate cancer

Medicine
Anyone who has taken abiraterone would not be eligible for enzalutamide, Nice has said. Credit: PA

Men in England who have already been treated with a new-generation cancer drug would not be eligible for Enzalutamide, according to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice).

Nice, the public body which decides the cost-effectiveness of medicines for NHS patients, said the new drug should not be used by patients who had already taken abiraterone.

Enzalutamide blocks molecular signals driving prostate cancer and improved survival by 30% in men who had not undergone chemotherapy.

A further 80% of men with advanced cancer had the progression delayed, even if the tumour had failed to respond to other treatments.

Read: Sleeping well at night linked to decreased prostate cancer risk

Read: Bill Bailey on the team effort to beat prostate cancer