14 Mar 2017

‘Unacceptable’ NHS cost cap threatens next generation of prostate cancer treatments

Thousands of men could be delayed or denied life-saving new drugs under plans to cap spending by NHS England, prompting "serious concern" and an online petition from leading health and care charities.

Prostate Cancer UK has joined 10 other health and care charities* in calling for NHS England to urgently rethink plans for a new spending cap on treatments, which could see the next generation of life-saving prostate cancer drugs delayed indefinitely from reaching the men who need them.

We're urging everyone to sign our online petition asking NHS England and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) to reconsider their proposed 'budget impact threshold', which gives the option to postpone any new treatments that would cost more than £20 million in any of the first three years.

Proposals could devastate men with advanced prostate cancer

The restrictions would have meant the breakthrough drugs for advanced prostate cancer, enzalutamide and abriaterone, would have been delayed by negotiations with the manufacturers over costs for many years, arriving in NHS hospitals too late for the thousands of men whose lives they have extended.

"Abiraterone has without question given me several extra years," says Alan Oliver (pictured above with his wife and grandchild), who started taking the hormone therapy drug in 2014.

"It has allowed me to enjoy my four grandchildren, three of whom are now in school, and I just couldn't put a price on this.

"It scares me that if this so-called cost cap comes in then in the future drugs, like abiraterone, would not get through the threshold, and people like me could potentially have the chance of precious time with loved ones held just out of reach."

1-in-5 new treatments could be delayed by cap

These vital 'end-of-life' drugs used by men like Alan already face a stringent and lengthy licensing and approval process, which the government is currently looking to expedite through its Accelerated Access Review and reforms to the Cancer Drugs Fund.

The proposed spending cap would add yet another layer of unnecessary bureaucracy and could stall up to 1-in-5 new treatments currently under review.

"Although we recognise the significant financial challenges facing the NHS, this arbitrary limit is not the solution and we're seriously concerned for the treatments of the future," says Angela Culhane, CEO of Prostate Cancer UK.

"NHS England and NICE need to hear this is unacceptable for patients and come up with a proposal that makes sure patients get the drugs and treatments they need, when they need them."

Please take two minutes to sign our petition.

(* Association of Medical Research Charities, Asthma UK, Breast Cancer Care, Breast Cancer Now, Kidney Cancer Support Network, Leukaemia Care, Ovacome, Pancreatic Cancer UK, Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, and Tackle.)