Cancer drug too expensive for Scotland

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Prostate Cancer UK is outraged the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) won’t make abiraterone more widely available

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9th February 2015 by Paul Cardwell 0 Comments

A UK cancer charity has slammed a decision not to make a life-prolonging and life-enhancing drug available for all patients on NHS Scotland.

Prostate Cancer UK said it was outraged the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) won’t make abiraterone available for men with incurable prostate cancer who have not received chemotherapy.

According to the charity, the drug, which was approved for routine use on NHS Scotland in August 2012 for patients who have undergone chemotherapy, has been shown to extend life and delay or avoid the need for chemotherapy and its devastating side effects.

The SMC however found the benefits of the drug didn’t justify its costs.

A statement on its findings read: “The submitting company did not present a sufficiently robust economic analysis to gain acceptance by SMC and in addition their justification of the treatment’s cost in relation to its benefits was not sufficient to gain acceptance by SMC.”

We are saddened to see that, once again, men are being denied treatment because it’s deemed to be too expensive

Commenting on the decision Owen Sharp, chief executive of Prostate Cancer UK, called on the consortium to do a u-turn, adding it wouldn’t rest until both the SMC and the manufacturer take the actions needed to get the drug routinely available.

“The SMC’s decision to deny abiraterone on the NHS in Scotland is an intolerable blow to hundreds of men with incurable prostate cancer,” he said.

“We are saddened to see that, once again, men are being denied treatment because it’s deemed to be too expensive.

“Men with advanced prostate cancer deserve the right to routinely access a treatment that can delay chemotherapy and its devastating side-effects.”

Abiraterone has not been approved for use south of the border by the SMC’s equivalent the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

However since March 2013 around 4,500 men have accessed the drug via the Cancer Drugs Fund – money set aside by the UK government to pay for cancer drugs that haven’t been approved in England and Wales.