More UK men given access to abiraterone
Even more men are set to benefit from the prostate cancer drug abiraterone after it was approved for NHS use in Northern Ireland.
Abiraterone, which was discovered at the ICR, was earlier this year recommended by NICE for NHS patients with advanced prostate cancer in England and Wales.
The Northern Ireland Executive reviewed NICE’s guidance for its applicability to local men and announced in July that it “fully endorsed” the decision.
Professor Alan Ashworth, Chief Executive of The Institute of Cancer Research, welcomed abiraterone’s inclusion on the NHS.
“It should extend the lives of thousands of men each year, and is an excellent example of how lab research can bring real benefits for patients. Abiraterone is also a true British success story, discovered here at The Institute of Cancer Research, and demonstrating how this country’s not-for-profit organisations can work in partnership with the pharmaceutical industry to turn theoretical concepts into drugs,” he said.
Abiraterone, from Janssen-Cilag International under the trade name Zytiga, is a new type of treatment for prostate cancer that works by blocking the synthesis of testosterone in all tissues including the tumour itself, not just the testes. This testosterone would otherwise continue to fuel prostate cancer growth and spread.
Abiraterone was discovered at the ICR in what is now the Cancer Research UK Cancer Therapeutics Unit and further developed at the ICR and The Royal Marsden. Professor Johann de Bono, from the ICR and The Royal Marsden, led the pivotal phase III clinical trial that led to NICE’s decision today. These trials showed that abiraterone could extend life for men with advanced prostate cancer, who had already had chemotherapy, by more than three months and improve their quality of life.
NICE recommended abiraterone in combination with prednisone or prednisolone as a treatment option for castration-resistant metastatic prostate cancer that has progressed on or after one docetaxel-containing therapy.
The Scottish Medicines Consortium is currently reviewing the use of abiraterone on the Scottish NHS and is expected to make a final decision on 13 August.