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Prostate cancer drug 'will not be widely available on the NHS'

A life-extending prostate cancer drug will not be widely available on the NHS, it has been announced.

In final draft guidance reassessing the use of the drug in the NHS, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) said that abiraterone will continue to only be available to suffers in England after they have undergone chemotherapy.

There is clear evidence that taking the drug before chemotherapy is beneficial for patients, according to The Institute of Cancer Research.

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Prostate cancer drug decision 'a fiasco'

The decision by the NHS financial watchdog Nice not to offer a life-extending prostate cancer drug to sufferers in England until after they have undergone chemotherapy is "a fiasco", a leading charity said.

Prostate Cancer UK's chief executive Owen Sharp said that the ruling robs patients of the chance to delay chemotherapy and its severe side effects.

It's a fiasco. This decision is a kick in the teeth for men with advanced prostate cancer. For many this presented a vital opportunity for extra time with loved ones and a chance to delay chemotherapy and the debilitating side effects which come with it.

An inflexible Nice process plus the drug company's inability to produce all the requested data has led to this being just the latest in a string of hugely disappointing rulings on prostate cancer drugs. Once again men in England will have to take their chances with the Cancer Drugs Fund.

The current system is flawed. It is not fit for purpose and it is the very people it is supposed to serve who are bearing the brunt. This decision is unjust and it needs to be overturned so that men in desperate need can receive the most effective drugs, wherever they live.

– Owen Sharp

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