Pancreatic cancer charity appalled by removal of Abraxane® from the Cancer Drugs Fund

abraxane_celgene_lung_cancerPancreatic Cancer Action expresses extreme disappointed with today’s decision by NHS England to remove life-extending drug Abraxane®, one of the first new drugs for treatment of pancreatic cancer in 20 years, from the Cancer Drugs Fund in England.

This move reduces an already limited choice of treatment options for pancreatic cancer patients in England, who account for 83% of patients in the UK, and restricts the ability of clinicians to prescribe a drug that has been proven to be clinically effective.

Ali Stunt, chief executive at Pancreatic Cancer Action, said: “Clearly the assessment criteria is failing abysmally if NHS England are unable to consider the unmet need for pancreatic cancer patients, the extremely limited treatment options currently available for pancreatic cancer, and the real-world benefit that this drug has for patients themselves in terms of both extension and quality of life.

“It is also shocking that of the drugs to be removed from CDF list of approved drugs, this is the only first-line treatment to be taken off.”

Pancreatic cancer is the UK’s fifth biggest cancer killer with the lowest survival rate of all 22 common cancers.  Almost 9,000 people are diagnosed with the disease each year, and they are faced with an average survival rate of just four to six months.

Abraxane could have a considerable impact on one year survival rates of pancreatic cancer in the UK, which are the worst in Europe.  Trials have shown that in some cases, the drug can extend a patient’s life to over 2 years, allowing patients with advanced pancreatic cancer to resume a normal life, taking part in everyday activities, and more importantly having valuable extra time with their loved ones.

Today’s decision adds confusion for patients as to which drugs are or are not available in different parts of the UK.  “With the drug available in Scotland and Wales, and most of Europe, this process is incredibly unfair and is adding to an already distressing situation that patients in England find themselves in them.

“This inequality of access must be remedied immediately by an effective solution involving NICE, NHS England, the Department of Health, the pharmaceutical industry and other key groups.  After all, this is about people’s lives and people who are already fighting pancreatic cancer should not have to fight for treatment. Pancreatic Cancer Action will not just sit back and let this happen and we will do all we can to overturn this disgraceful decision. ”