NICE says no to life-extending drug for pancreatic cancer

Yesterday on 28th October 2015, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) which makes recommendations on which medicines should be funded by the NHS in England, published its Final Appraisal Determination on the use of Abraxane®  with gemcitabine for advanced pancreatic cancer.

NICE has recommended that Abraxane® should NOT be funded by the NHS in England – on grounds that it is not cost effective.

Ali Stunt, chief executive at Pancreatic Cancer Action said: “This is a travesty for patients and families.  The drug has been shown to tackle the disease in a different way to other pancreatic cancer drugs and provides patients with valuable extra time with their families and loved ones. Not only this, Abraxane® can be  better tolerated by patients than other treatment options, and can help palliate the symptoms of pancreatic cancer. As such, the quality of life of patients taking Abraxane® can be significantly improved.

“This news is also a double blow for patients in England who will now not have any access to this drug via the NHS, as it will be removed from the Cancer Drugs Fund on 4th November, 2015 –  a decision that is unfair as patients in Scotland and Wales continue to access the drug routinely on the NHS.

We urge the Department of Health to find a better way to effectively assess the value of such drugs for diseases which have a clear unmet need, such as pancreatic cancer which has shown no improvement in survival in over 40 years, to ensure those who need them most can benefit from them.”