Abiraterone, a drug used to treat advanced prostate cancer was discovered and developed at the ICR (photo: Jan Chlebik for the ICR, 2014)
NICE has announced that abiraterone, the life-extending prostate cancer drug discovered at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, will be made available for men on the NHS earlier in the course of their treatment.
Abiraterone works by blocking the production of testosterone, which prostate tumours rely on to grow. Since 2012, it has been used on the NHS as standard treatment for advanced prostate cancer after chemotherapy, extending the lives of many thousands of men in the UK.
Today’s news means that it will now be available for men at an earlier stage, without them needing to be treated with chemotherapy first.
Professor Paul Workman, Chief Executive of the ICR, said: “We’re extremely pleased. This is a big victory for men in England with prostate cancer, and means they will finally catch up with the US, Europe and indeed Scotland in being able to access abiraterone earlier in the course of treatment.
"Abiraterone was discovered at the ICR’s laboratories in London, and it’s great that men with advanced cancer who are treated on the NHS will now routinely receive a drug that allows them to live longer and delay chemotherapy.
“The answer today is the right one, but I would urge NICE to implement the planned overhaul of its drug appraisal processes as soon as possible to avoid repeated delays in getting the best, most innovative treatments to patients. It’s been more than three years since NICE first started evaluating use of abiraterone pre chemotherapy, and it’s very frustrating that it has taken that long for NICE and the drug’s manufacturer to find a way of making it available cost-effectively.”