NICE issues draft guidance on prostate cancer pill abiraterone acetate
Abiraterone acetate is a pill discovered at The Institute of Cancer Research that has been shown in Phase III testing to extend life for men with advanced prostate cancer. The drug was approved for use by men with metastatic advanced prostate cancer in the US and Europe in 2011. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is tasked with assessing whether abiraterone should be made widely available on the NHS.
On February 2 2012, NICE issued a draft guidance recommending against the listing of abiraterone on the NHS. Consultation on this recommendation is continuing until February 23, with a decision expected in May.
We are obviously disappointed with this preliminary decision. We hope NICE will now work with the drug manufacturer to reach a solution that will make the drug more widely available.
An estimated 10,500 men in the UK have advanced prostate cancer that has become resistant to standard hormone treatments.
We have had much success in the past few years in developing new drugs for advanced prostate cancer. Five new drugs have been shown in Phase III testing to significantly extend life for men with advanced prostate cancer, and the ICR helped develop four of these, including abiraterone which was discovered at the ICR. None of these drugs are yet routinely available on the NHS.
With the real progress we are making towards personalised cancer medicine, it may be now time for a wider conversation about how we can make sure the right drugs are available for the right patients.