High Wycombe, 12th October 2015: The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) has today recommended Zytiga® (abiraterone acetate) for use before chemotherapy in men with advanced prostate cancer who are no longer responding to conventional hormone therapy.[i] Eligible men in Scotland can now routinely benefit from earlier treatment with a medicine that will allow them to delay or avoid chemotherapy and that can delay disease progression, prolong life and provide a better quality of life with less pain.[ii] In England and Wales, men with prostate cancer will have to wait for NICE to decide whether the treatment will also be routinely available to them on the NHS in the same setting.
In England, abiraterone is currently only available before chemotherapy for the treatment of metastatic castration resistant prostate cancer, via applications to the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) and is the second most requested treatment on the list.[iii] However, the Fund is limited to patients in England and is due to end in March 2016. A positive NICE recommendation will be the only route to ensure that men in England and Wales who could benefit from abiraterone before chemotherapy are able to get routine access to it. In the same week that SMC has approved the treatment in this setting, NICE is due to re-appraise the use of abiraterone before chemotherapy in England and Wales, with a final decision expected later this year.
Dr Rozlyn Bekker, Medical Director at Janssen, said: "Janssen is extremely pleased that the SMC has recommended abiraterone for use before chemotherapy – this is great news for men in Scotland with advanced prostate cancer."
She continued, "Abiraterone used earlier on in this disease allows men to delay or avoid chemotherapy and offers important benefits to patients in terms of both survival and quality of life2. We are working closely with NHS England and with NICE to find a way to make this important treatment option routinely available on the NHS. We hope that NICE will now agree that eligible men in England and Wales should have the same routine access to abiraterone before chemotherapy as those in Scotland."
Professor Heather Payne, Consultant in Clinical Oncology at University College Hospital, London, said: "The green light from the SMC is great news for this group of men in Scotland who can now benefit from a SMC-approved medicine that enables them to maintain their quality of life and increase survival and is therefore an important option for both men with prostate cancer and their carers. It is now important that men in England and Wales are also offered a NICE-approved alternative to chemotherapy after failure with initial hormone therapy."
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men. Across the 41,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year - 35,567 in England and 2,346 in Wales.[iv] Over 10,000 men die of prostate cancer each year, making it the second most common cause of cancer deaths in the UK - 9,133 of these are in England and 556 in Wales.[v]