NICE's welcome decision follows a reappraisal involving new data and a price cut by the drug's manufacturer, but lengthy negotiations should be avoided in future.
Cabazitaxel chemotherapy has now been approved for routine use on the NHS in England and Wales. The treatment is suitable for some men with advanced hormone-resistant prostate cancer who have already been treated with docetaxel chemotherapy, and may help to control symptoms and prolong life.
This treatment was rejected by NICE some years ago and sat on the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF). It was briefly removed from the CDF between March and May 2015, then returned on appeal by the manufacturer. NICE has now reappraised the drug in light of new data and a reduced price from the manufacturer, which ultimately led to today’s decision.
"It's good news that cabazitaxel is now going to be routinely available to those men who need it," said Heather Blake, our Director of Support and Influencing. "This important drug can offer precious extra time to men who are dealing with the latter stages of prostate cancer.
"As with abiraterone recently, NICE has shown flexibility in its procedures in order to make this decision. This flexibility has been crucial and we hope that this is a sign of what we can expect to see under the new appraisal process for cancer treatments, due to start in July 2016."
In future, realistic price negotiations should begin from the outset to avoid leaving men in limbo
She also welcomed the manufacturer's eventual price cut to get the treatment into clinics, but argued it should have come sooner. "In future, realistic price negotiations should begin from the outset to avoid leaving men in limbo during lengthy discussions further down the line," she said.
A consultation on reforms to the CDF and drug appraisal process proposed by NHS England closed in February. The new reforms were approved by NICE on 16 March and we are now in a process of transition until the reforms fully come into effect over the summer.
Cabazitaxel will remain on the CDF until today’s announcement is confirmed in four weeks' time. After that, commissioners have three months to ensure the drug is routinely available in their areas.
This treatment is currently being appraised by the Scottish Medicines Council in Scotland, where it is not currently available to men. Their decision is due in around 10 weeks.