15 Dec 2016

Cabazitaxel decision in Scotland finally ends UK variation in NHS drug access

Today's Scottish green light for the chemotherapy drug means the same key treatments for advanced prostate cancer are now routinely available to eligible men in all the home nations.

The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) has confirmed that it will make cabazitaxel chemotherapy routinely available on the NHS in Scotland. Today's decisions means treatment options for men in Scotland will finally be brought into line with those available in England and Wales, after years of campaigning to end the disparity by Prostate Cancer UK.

Cabazitaxel (also known as Jevtana) is suitable for some men with advanced prostate cancer who have become resistant to hormone therapy and have already been treated with docetaxel chemotherapy. It was initially rejected by the SMC in 2011, and again after reappraisal in June 2016. But following work from Prostate Cancer UK to highlight how men dealing with the late stages of the disease have very few other treatment options available to them, the drug was resubmitted for appraisal with additional information from the manufacturer.

This is the last in a string of drugs which we have had to fight to be made available throughout the UK.
Heather Blake Director of Support and Influencing, Prostate Cancer UK

"Today’s approval of cabazitaxel chemotherapy is welcome news, and represents an important milestone for men with prostate cancer in Scotland," says Heather Blake, director of Support and Influencing at Prostate Cancer UK. "This is the last in a string of drugs which we have had to fight to be made available throughout the UK to those who would benefit.

"It means men in Scotland will now be routinely offered the same suite of treatments as those in other parts of the UK, ending variation in access which has been an ongoing injustice for years."

But she warns there is still work to be done to. "We need to see the SMC and manufacturers work together to overcome current barriers so that in future it does not take so frustratingly long to reach the right decision for men," she says. "We will also continue campaigning to reduce variation across all aspects of prostate cancer treatment and care.

"Every man deserves the best, no matter where he lives."

In England and Wales, NICE initially rejected cabazitaxel in 2012. But it was still available in England via the Cancer Drugs Fund until it was finally approved for routine commissioning in both home nations by NICE in April 2016, after further negotiation and a price reduction from the manufacturer.