Keep Abraxane on the Cancer Drugs Fund list!

Treatments-123rfWe urge the panel tomorrow to keep life-extending drug Abraxane, the first new drug for treating metastatic pancreatic cancer in almost 20 years, on the Cancer Drugs Fund list of approved drugs.

If removed, it means eligible pancreatic cancer patients in England will not have access to a treatment that could provide them with valuable extra time.

Pancreatic cancer has suffered from chronic underfunding for pancreatic cancer research, which has meant that there has been no newly licensed drug which has shown a significant survival advantage for use in pancreatic cancer for almost two decades.

Abraxane, in combination with gemcitabine has, in clinical trials shown to increase survival by two months on average, but some patients in the trial have benefitted from up to two years’ survival. This is very encouraging for advanced pancreatic cancer patients.

The decision to de-list Abraxane® from the CDF list would come despite approvals by both the Scottish Medicine Consortium (SMC) and the All Wales Medicines Strategy Group (AWMSG), and would paint a disparate access picture across the UK.

Ali Stunt, Founder and CEO of Pancreatic Cancer Action comments: “Yet again pancreatic cancer patients may be let down by NHS England. It has been over six months since widespread access to Abraxane® was granted in Scotland, and we now have a two-tier system where access depends on where you live in the UK. Abraxane® is becoming the standard of care across the border, but whilst eligible patients in Scotland and Wales are able to benefit via their respective NHS bodies, those in England will now be denied access. Access to cancer treatment should not be about luck, it is a scandal that this now depends on where patients reside in the UK. We strongly urge NHS England to re-consider Abraxane’s® place on the Cancer Drugs Fund and hope that long-term patient access is enabled through the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.”

Pancreatic cancer is the fifth most common cancer killer in the UK, and over 8,500 people are diagnosed each year.   Survival rates are amongst the lowest of all the major cancers in the UK and only 15.7% of patients diagnosed in the advanced stage of the disease survive for one year after diagnosis.  Around 80% of patients are diagnosed once the cancer has already reached an advanced stage, when a cure is no longer an option.

Pancreatic cancer survival rates are the worst of any major cancer, with no improvement in five- and ten-year survival rates in the last 40 years.

PCA patron Nick Hewer makes plea to keep Abraxane on the Cancer Drugs Fund

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