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MHF challenges NICE over prostate cancer drug

The Forum has joined with other leading organisations in the field to condemn NICE's draft decision not to recommend abiraterone, a life-extending drug for men with incurable prostate cancer.

A letter published in The Independent today signed by MHF CEO Peter Baker hails this British discovery as 'one of the biggest breakthroughs in the treatment of men with advanced prostate cancer for years.' The letter says 'it will be a very bitter disappointment if abiraterone remains off limits to those men who need it most.' It urges NICE to reconsider its decision when it meets to discuss responses to it in a few weeks.

Peter Baker said: 'Men with incurable prostate cancer deserve the best treatments available and we urge NICE to reconsider its decision not to recommend abiraterone.'

Other signatories include Owen Sharp of the Prostate Cancer Charity; David Neal, Professor of Surgical Oncology at Cambridge University; Harpal Kumar of Cancer Research UK; Ciarán Devane of Macmillan Cancer Support; Lucinda Poulton and Alison Lowndes of the British Association of Urological Nurses; Jonathan Waxman, Professor of Oncology at Hammersmith Hospital; Emma Malcolm of Prostate Action and Sandy Tindale-Biscoe of the Prostate Cancer Support Federation.

Postcode lottery

The letter, published during Prosate Cancer Awareness Month, goes on to say:

'Historically, prostate cancer has suffered from a legacy of neglect and in recent years very little progress has been made in the treatment of the advanced stages of the disease. New treatments, like abiraterone, are critical in helping to turn this situation around – but they have to make it to the men who need them.

'Undoubtedly, in this time of austerity NICE has some hard decisions to make. However, if they fail to recommend abiraterone, men across England and Wales will face a postcode lottery when they try to access this important treatment.

'We hope that NICE, and the drug’s manufacturer, lead the way forward in the UK by putting the patient first and agreeing a fair price and value for abiraterone. We also believe NICE should class abiraterone as an end-of-life drug so it is fairly assessed under the same criteria as end-of-life drugs for other cancers.

'Only by overturning this questionable decision can we ensure men with advanced prostate cancer have fair access to effective, life prolonging treatment.'

Page created on March 15th, 2012

Page updated on March 15th, 2012