Cancer researchers criticise rejection of prostate drug

AFP
Britain's health authorities' decision to reject the use of a drug on patients with prostate cancer before they receive chemotherapy has been criticised by researchers
Britain's health authorities' decision to reject the use of a drug on patients with prostate cancer before they receive chemotherapy has been criticised by researchers (AFP Photo/Miguel Medina)

London (AFP) - Health authorities' decision to reject the use of a drug on patients with prostate cancer before they receive chemotherapy was criticised by researchers on Friday.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), the body which decides what treatments the NHS can afford, rejected the use of abiraterone before chemotherapy in advanced prostate cancer cases in draft guidance.

"We're very disappointed that men with prostate cancer will miss out on the chance to have abiraterone much earlier in their course of treatment as a consequence of this decision," said Paul Workman, interim chief executive at the Institute for Cancer Research, where the drug was discovered.

"There is clear evidence that use of abiraterone before chemotherapy is beneficial for patients, and gives them longer, healthier lives. We urge NICE and the drug's manufacturer to get back to the table, and explore every option for making abiraterone available to these men at a price that is affordable for the NHS."

Prostate Cancer UK called the decision "unjust".

"It's a fiasco. This decision is a kick in the teeth for men with advanced prostate cancer. For many this presented a vital opportunity for extra time with loved ones and a chance to delay chemotherapy and the debilitating side effects which come with it," said the charity's chief executive Owen Sharp.

NICE chief executive Andrew Dillon said "the manufacturer's own economic model demonstrated that the drug does not offer enough benefit to justify its price."