3 Feb 2014

Enzalutamide, a new life-extending prostate cancer drug, could prolong life for men with advanced prostate cancer and delay the need for chemotherapy for as long as 17 months according to new research presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s Genitourinary Cancers Conference.

The randomised control trial looked at 1717 men with metastatic prostate cancer for whom androgen therapy had failed but had not yet had chemotherapy and preliminary results showed the potential for the drug to both improve life-expectancy and delay the need for chemotherapy.

Enzalutamide is a type of hormone therapy for men with advanced prostate cancer. The drug is currently licensed in Europe only for men whose prostate cancer has progressed after chemotherapy. This week, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommended that the drug be made available on the NHS only for those men who have not been treated with abiraterone, the only other available non-chemotherapy drug for men with advanced prostate cancer. Prostate Cancer UK is challenging NICE’s draft decision in respect of the drug’s prescription after chemotherapy. NICE are yet to appraise the drug for use pre-chemotherapy.

Mikis Euripides, Director of Policy at Prostate Cancer UK said:

“Men with advanced prostate cancer desperately need more treatment options and these encouraging results suggest that enzalutamide could not only delay the need for men to go through the agony of chemotherapy but in fact increase how long they will live. Enzalutamide is already licensed for those who’ve had chemotherapy but this trial will hopefully establish a robust base of evidence to demonstrate that it should be available beforehand.

This is good news but sadly won’t help the one man an hour who dies of prostate cancer at present. We need to see drugs like enzalutamide available sooner rather than later and so it’s a cruel twist that this study comes just days after NICE ruled out the drug for men who’ve have already had chemotherapy and the only other drug available at this stage – abiraterone. Men deserve better and so we’re fighting to encourage NICE to see sense and ensure all who need it can access it. This week we’ve seen 50,000 people come together as Men United to fight the injustices facing men with prostate cancer. NICE’s decision on enzalutamide demonstrates all too starkly why this movement is needed.’

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