The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) uphold our appeal against their refusal to make abiraterone available for men newly diagnosed with high-risk advanced prostate cancer.

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29 Oct 2020

Today we’re a step closer to making an effective treatment available to men who can’t receive chemotherapy. NICE, who advise the NHS on treatments, announced they’ve upheld our appeal against their refusal to make abiraterone available for men newly diagnosed with high-risk advanced prostate cancer.

We’re spurred on by this development and more determined than ever to achieve a victory for men later this year.

One of our top priorities is to ensure that when new and better treatments are shown to be safe and cost-effective, men can get access to them – so they can spend more time with the people they love.

We regularly work with decision makers and the NHS to ensure men with prostate cancer get the best outcomes. Earlier in the year we worked with patient groups and clinical experts to appeal NICE’s decision to reject abiraterone. We showed evidence on how critical this life-extending treatment is for men who are unable to tolerate docetaxel chemotherapy.

Scotland made abiraterone available to these men in January 2020. It’s critical that this treatment is now made permanently available for men in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

If this doesn’t happen many men face the distressing prospect of missing out on a potentially life-extending treatment. This is so important for older men, as data from Public Health England shows that far fewer men over 70 are receiving chemotherapy, meaning these men could be denied additional months of life simply because of their age, or the country they live in.

Men could be denied additional months of life simply because of their age, or the country they live in.

Today’s positive news follows the landmark decision by NHS commissioners to make abiraterone and the similar drug enzalutamide temporarily available to this group of men during the Covid-19 pandemic, due to the increased risk posed to the immune system by chemotherapy. Both treatments have been shown to be just as effective as chemotherapy at extending life, without the associated risks. However, this is only intended to be a temporary measure and could be withdrawn in England as early as next year.

Around 4,300 men could have missed out on abiraterone in the two years it has taken NICE to appraise this treatment, costing each man around 15 months of additional life.

Heather Blake, Director of Support and Influencing at Prostate Cancer UK said:

“It’s fantastic news. However, this isn’t the final victory and NICE must act now to make sure no one misses out on life-extending treatment simply because they cannot have chemotherapy. We’re calling on NICE to address this inequality and ensure men have access to abiraterone regardless of their age or the country they live in.

We also urge the manufacturer to offer abiraterone at a price that the NHS can afford.

- Heather Blake, Director of Support and Influencing

 

“We also urge the manufacturer to offer abiraterone at a price that the NHS can afford. Failing to do this will undermine the success of the appeal and could see thousands of men miss out on valuable additional time with their loved ones.”

76-year-old Robert Horsley is currently taking Abiraterone. He helped us to campaign for its availability for other men like him who can’t have chemotherapy because of their age or other conditions.

Robert says, “I have a wife, children and grandchildren and wish to remain a part of their lives for as long as possible. Declining to commission abiraterone for men who cannot have chemotherapy, like myself, could affect them severely both mentally and physically. I believe abiraterone should be available to all those in a similar position to myself. The current global pandemic has brought about greater use of my proven treatment and this should be allowed to continue.”

“I have a wife, children and grandchildren and wish to remain a part of their lives for as long as possible. I believe abiraterone should be available to all those in a similar position to myself."

- Robert Horsley

 

What’s next?

NICE will now review their decision to take account of the outcomes from the appeal. They will start this process in December. We’ll continue to advise and influence this process on behalf of men across the UK.

Your support allows us to continue this work to get the best treatments to men, so they can live long and well and spend more time with their families. Thank you.

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