Abiraterone acetate (Zytiga®) is a type of hormone therapy for men with advanced prostate cancer that has spread to other parts of the body. Abiraterone is already available to men with late-stage advanced prostate cancer but it has been shown to extend their lives by an average of 15 additional months if given to them earlier. This is crucial for men who cannot have chemotherapy, and unless the decision is reversed, 2,500 men each year will be left with no other treatment options until their cancer progresses. Abiraterone has been approved and is available to men in Scotland, but men in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are set to miss out.
Why is this?
NICE wants to know the benefit of abiraterone in men who cannot tolerate chemotherapy before they approve it, but there's no specific evidence available for this group. If they refuse to be flexible about this evidence, neither abiraterone nor any furture treatments in this space - like apalutamide and enzalutamide - will be approved in the future.
Janssen (drug manufacturer of abiraterone) need to engage with NICE and NHS England to reach an agreement and offer abiraterone at an affordable cost the NHS. So far, they have failed to do so.
We need both parties to recognise the impact that a negative decision on abiraterone would have for men now and for the approval of similar treatments, preventing life-extending drugs from reaching men in the future.