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Cancer Research UK welcomes prostate cancer drug approval in Wales

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by Cancer Research UK | News

20 February 2012

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Cancer Research UK welcomes the news that the All Wales Medicines Strategy Group (AWMSG) has made prostate cancer drug abiraterone available on the NHS, paving the way for NICE to make a positive ruling when they publish their final guidance in May.

Earlier this month after a preliminary review, NICE announced the drug – developed by Cancer Research UK and others – would not be routinely offered on the NHS because the manufacturer, Janssen, had set the price too high.

NICE also said the drug did not meet the End of Life criteria, which would have meant less stringent rules over cost applied.

The AWMSG were able to approve abiraterone after assessing it as an End of Life drug. The drug will now be available on the NHS in Wales until NICE release their final guidance, which will override the AWMSG decision if abiraterone is rejected.

Professor Peter Johnson, Cancer Research UK’s chief clinician, said: “We’re pleased that the AWMSG and the drug’s manufacturer, Janssen, have agreed a price that makes abiraterone available for men in Wales who need it. But this is only guaranteed to happen for a few months until NICE release their final guidance.

“Abiraterone is an effective drug for men who have advanced prostate cancer that has come back after chemotherapy.  Patients and doctors have found it valuable since it has been available via the Cancer Drugs Fund in England, but there is a strong case for it to be routinely funded by the NHS.

“We want Janssen to lower the price of abiraterone and NICE to take another look at the way they assessed its cost effectiveness.

“The AWMSG were able to approve the drug because they used the End of Life criteria. This shows that if NICE use these criteria, they could negotiate a price that makes abiraterone cost effective for the NHS.

“We hope the right decision will be made, and quickly, so that all men with this form of the disease will be offered vital extra months of life, regardless of where they live.”


For media enquiries please contact the Cancer Research UK press office on 020 3469 8300 or, out-of-hours, the duty press officer on 07050 264 059.