UK body blocks earlier use of J&J
prostate cancer drug
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[May 14, 2014]
— Britain's healthcare
cost-effectiveness agency NICE said on Wednesday that a Johnson &
Johnson prostate cancer drug, originally invented in Britain, was not
worth giving to patients who have yet to receive chemotherapy.
Although Zytiga, or abiraterone, is already cleared
for use in some men after chemotherapy, a green light for its
earlier use would allow many more patients to access the oral
"We know how important it is for patients to have the option to
delay chemotherapy and its associated side effects, so we are
disappointed not to be able to recommend abiraterone for use in this
way," Andrew Dillon, chief executive of the National Institute for
Health and Care Excellence (NICE), said in a statement.
"However, the manufacturer’s own economic model showed that the drug
would not be cost-effective at this stage – because of this we
cannot recommend the drug in this preliminary guidance."
Zytiga, which is given as a daily tablet, costs 2,930 pounds
($4,900) for 120 tablets.
Paul Workman, deputy chief executive of Britain's Institute of
Cancer Research, whose scientists discovered the drug, said he was
disappointed by the decision and he urged NICE, the state health
service and J&J to reach a deal on a fair price as soon as possible.
“Abiraterone has in part been a victim of the success of prostate
cancer medicine, since men who have not yet received chemotherapy
now live for longer than two years, meaning NICE could not apply its
end of life criteria," he added.
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NICE, which must decide if treatments offer value for money for the
public health service, is frequently chastised for not recommended
expensive new cancer drugs. In an effort to address some of these
concerns it introduced a more lenient appraisal system for drugs
given at the end of a patient's life.
($1 = 0.5939 British pounds)
(Reporting by Ben Hirschler; Editing by Greg Mahlich)
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