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.