28 Jan 2014

In October we reported the good news that the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) had provisionally approved enzalutamide, a life-extending cancer drug, for men with advanced prostate cancer who have stopped responding to hormone therapy and chemotherapy.

However, today NICE has revised that draft decision, and says that enzalutamide should only be made available post chemotherapy to those men who haven’t already been treated with abiraterone – the only other available treatment for men at this stage of the disease.

Playing Russian roulette with patients’ lives

This decision places a tremendous burden on doctors, who must now consider - without knowing which treatment will work better for a particular man - that if they prescribe abiraterone, they are ruling out the possibility of enzalutamide later on. This is an unnecessary complication for men whose options are already limited.

NICE’s new draft will come as a huge disappointment to those men for whom abiraterone hasn’t worked, as they learn they’ve reached the end of the road in terms of possible treatments.  This comes as a particularly tough blow after a few short months of hope as the previous draft decision looked set to make enzalutamide available to them.

Another example of the postcode lottery

This news comes even after the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) has approved enzalutamide after chemotherapy with no restrictions for men in Scotland. We think the same option should be available for men in the rest of the UK too. 

We don’t know why NICE has changed its mind and decided, based on the same evidence, to make a different decision to the SMC. While we’re pleased to hear that enzalutamide will be made available on the NHS, we’re disappointed to learn that it will only be available to men who haven’t had abiraterone.

United against advanced prostate cancer

NICE have opened their draft decision for consultation, so we’ll be responding with a call to remove the restrictions on enzalutamide.

And we need your help too. Please, respond to NICE’s public consultation with your own comments on why enzalutamide should be made available to all men with advanced prostate cancer after chemotherapy – regardless of whether they’ve already received abiraterone. To make this easier, we’ve put together more information about the consultation, and a step by step guide of how to register your opinion.

It’s times like this that really show why we need a movement for men’s health, and how we can stand together to make a difference for men with prostate cancer, who really deserve better. #MenUnited

comments powered by Disqus