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The ICR responds to decision by NICE not to recommend abiraterone as first-line treatment for advanced prostate cancer

White abiraterone pill

The Institute of Cancer Research, London, has expressed disappointment that the prostate cancer drug abiraterone (brand name Zytiga) will not be made available to men with advanced prostate cancer as a first-line treatment on the NHS.

The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) is calling for urgent discussions around the data supporting the drug’s effectiveness earlier in treatment and its price, and is urging a review of the decision within a year as new trial data become available.

Abiraterone was discovered at the ICR and developed in clinical trials with its hospital partner The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust.

It is currently approved for use on the NHS before chemotherapy but only after patients have received standard hormone therapy. Last year the European drugs regulator – the European Medicines Agency – approved abiraterone as a first-line treatment for advanced prostate cancer, alongside hormone therapy.

The drug has extended the lives of hundreds of thousands of men around the world, and was recently celebrated as one of the greatest research achievements in the 70 year history of the NHS by the National Institute for Health Research.

A game changer for treatment of prostate cancer

Professor Paul Workman, Chief Executive of The Institute of Cancer Research, London, said:

“Abiraterone has been a game changer for treatment of prostate cancer – extending the lives of men with the disease, and crucially sparing them the side-effects of conventional chemotherapy.

“I am disappointed that men with advanced prostate cancer will not be able to access abiraterone as a first-line treatment. We hope the manufacturer will be able to provide the data NICE needs as soon as possible so that the drug can be made available earlier in treatment.

“I’d also urge both parties to get together to discuss the price of abiraterone, as it is essential that those men who might benefit from earlier access to the drug do not miss out on the grounds of cost.

“It is particularly concerning that some men who are ineligible for the current first-line treatment, docetaxel, should be denied access to abiraterone – and I would urge NICE to consider availability of the drug for these patients as a matter of urgency.

“NICE should also revisit its decision within a year, as new trial data becomes available, rather than waiting three years as the committee report recommends.”


abiraterone Paul Workman NICE statement
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