Patients lose out as NICE set to reject advanced pancreatic cancer treatment for use on the NHS in England

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man having chemoPeople with advanced pancreatic cancer are likely to miss out on a promising new treatment, after the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) said it was unlikely to approve it for use on the NHS in England, because it did not offer value for money for widespread use.

Charities Pancreatic Cancer UK and Pancreatic Cancer Action are disappointed with NICE’s draft decision on Onivyde® and are calling for urgent review of the NICE approval system so it works better for patients with cancers with the lowest survival rates and new treatments are more likely to be given the green light. Pancreatic cancer currently has very few treatment options and the worst survival rate of all the 21 most common cancers.

Onivyde® was licenced for use less than a month ago and could provide a vital new second line treatment option for patients with advanced disease whose first chemotherapy treatment option has not been effective or stopped working. However, Onivyde® is currently only available privately.

Research has found that patients being treated with Onivyde® lived on average two months longer than they would have otherwise. Someone with advanced pancreatic cancer will on average live for just two to six months, so this treatment could double the amount of precious time some patients have to spend with their loved ones.

Alex Ford, Chief Executive at Pancreatic Cancer UK, said: “This promising new treatment could offer those with advanced disease a crucial chance to spend twice as long with their loved ones, so we are disappointed at this initial decision. We urge NICE to rethink and remember that for people with advanced pancreatic cancer, the chance to live two months longer than they would otherwise can make an immeasurable difference.

“For decades, little progress has been made for people with pancreatic cancer; they still have very few treatment options, and just five per cent will live for five years or more after diagnosis. That is why it is crucial we have urgent reform of the way NICE reviews drugs for cancers with the poorest survival rates, so that more beneficial treatments are made widely available on the NHS and people are given the crucial chance to live longer.”
Ali Stunt, Founder and Chief Executive, at Pancreatic Cancer Action said: “We are extremely concerned about this interim decision by NICE to say no to the only licensed second-line treatment for pancreatic cancer, which has been shown to extend patient survival. Currently, patients only survive three to six months from diagnosis so the value of any extra time cannot be underestimated.

“Pancreatic cancer is a serious disease with a vast unmet need, so we need to ensure that any treatment option that can improve survival and quality of life is made available to the patients as soon as possible.”