The Institute of Cancer Research, London, has issued a statement about
decisions by NICE today to recommend the drugs olaparib and enzalutamide for use on the NHS, but reject the ICR-discovered prostate cancer drug abiraterone.
Professor Paul Workman, Chief Executive of The Institute of Cancer Research, London, said:
“We’ve seen a partial easing today in the bottleneck for innovative new cancer drugs reaching patients. It’s good news that NICE and the drug manufacturers have shown enough flexibility for two exciting new cancer treatments to be made available on the NHS, but it’s very disappointing that patients will continue to be denied the prostate cancer drug abiraterone – discovered at the ICR – until later in the course of treatment.
“It’s great news that NICE has changed its decision, and made olaparib available for women with BRCA-mutated ovarian cancer. The development of olaparib was underpinned by translational research at the ICR, which was instrumental in developing the innovative concept of targeting BRCA-mutated cancers with drugs of its type. Today it becomes the first cancer drug targeted against an inherited genetic fault ever to be made available on the NHS. Its approval by NICE is a defining moment in the history of targeted cancer treatments, although it is still frustrating that under the terms of the judgement patients cannot benefit until they have had at least three rounds of chemotherapy.
“It is very welcome that NICE has decided that men with prostate cancer can access the drug enzalutamide without having to go through chemotherapy first. The drug, which the ICR and The Royal Marsden helped to develop for patients, has proven benefits for extending life and improving quality of life, and the decision will mean that men can benefit earlier in the course of treatment.
“But it is a real blow that NICE has again decided to deny men the innovative prostate cancer drug abiraterone before chemotherapy. Abiraterone was discovered here at the ICR in England, so it is very disappointing that men in England and Wales will not be able to access the treatment – even though in Scotland it has been made available on the NHS. We need to challenge these kinds of inequalities in drug access across the UK.”