NHS reject life-extending prostate drug due to NICE recommendations

The National Institute for Health Care and Excellence have decided to not recommend the use of olaparib, a potentially life-extending drug used for previously treated, hormone-relapsed metastatic prostate cancer.

Olaparib was the first genetically targeted cancer drug in the world when it was approved for use in women with ovarian cancer, specifically those who has inherited BRCA mutations.

The PROfound trial revealed that the drug is effective for some men with prostate cancer. The study found that prostate cancer patients with faulty BRCA2, BRCA1 OR ATM genes lived an average of 7.4 months before the cancer progresses in comparison to 3.6 months in those who received enzalutamide and abiraterone.

In September last year Scotland approved the drug for use in men with this type of cancer as it was recommended by the Scottish Medicines Consortium.

Professor Johann De Bono, Professor of Experimental Cancer Medicine at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and leader of the PROfound trial, said:

“Olaparib is a precision drug that can extend life for men with some mutations in their tumours while sparing them the side effects of chemotherapy. I was delighted when olaparib was approved for NHS patients in Scotland earlier this year – and it’s disappointing that this decision means their counterparts in England and Wales will miss out on such a valuable new treatment option. It’s an example of the barriers that exist to making innovative drugs available at prices that the NHS can afford and is going to result in postcode prescribing across the UK.”

If this decision is not reviewed, Men in England and Wales with this specific type of cancer will not be able to access Olaparib.

Professor Kristian Helin, Chief Executive of The Institute of Cancer Research, London, said:

“This is a disappointing decision that will deny men with advanced prostate cancer in England and Wales a personalised treatment that could allow them to live longer and stay healthier. I urge NICE and the manufacturer to come back to the table and try to find agreement on a way to make olaparib available at an agreeable price.

“We must also address the systemic issues we face in providing NHS patients with access to innovative cancer drugs at appropriate prices. The NHS needs to show more flexibility in the way drugs are priced from one indication to the next, to ensure new drugs can reach more patients, and pharmaceutical companies in return must be prepared to offer discounts if drugs do not work as well as promised.”

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