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NICE deem prostate cancer drug too expensive


A prostate cancer drug is too expensive for use on the NHS, a watchdog has ruled.

Although abiraterone (also called Zytiga) had been hailed as a breakthrough in extending the lives of men with late-stage forms of the disease, the draft ruling by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence suggests it is not good value for money at the price set by manufacturer.

The drug, which works by blocking the production of male hormones in all tissues, not just the testes, including the tumours themselves, was developed by scientists at the Institute of Cancer Research and the Royal Marsden in London.

A trial involving more than a thousand patients across the world, which was reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed that the drug extended survival time by four months on average, with some men doing much better.

Cancer experts said the decision by NICE was a “huge blow” to patients with very few treatment options left, adding that the watchdog had used the wrong assessment criteria in reaching its decision.



Readers' comments (5)

  • Or alternatively that the manufacturer should set its price lower, rather than attempting to rip off those attempting to treat vulnerable patients.

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  • It seems to me that NICE have too much power. What gives them the right to decide whether a man can have another 4 months of life? It might not sound much to us healthy peeps but when one is facing imminent death it give you the chance to set your affairs straight, see family members that you might not otherwise get the chance to see before you die, 4 months is a long, long time. And what about the man's family? Each man being denied this treatment is in all probability a husband or partner, a father, a grandfather, a brother, an uncle, a cousin, a friend, an ex work colleague. For God's sake, it's immoral.

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  • Anonymous | 3-Feb-2012 9:55 am

    one always has to think of oneself as well - those making the rules could also be affected - or are NICE all women in this instance?

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  • Tinkerbell

    Nice one NICE. As usual money before lives. Yes bring down the price but in the meantime have a heart whilst you negotiate a better deal. National institute for Clinical excellence or rather 'How much does this cost?'

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  • Tinkerbell

    Anonymous | 3-Feb-2012 9:55 am

    Well said, especially if it is proven to work.

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