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Abraxane Update in Wales

Posted by: Policy and campaigning 20 August 2014

Abraxane update in Wales

On 3rd September 2014 the All Wales Medicines Strategy Group (AWMSG) is due to meet to consider whether to allow Abraxane® to be made available on the NHS in Wales for eligible pancreatic cancer patients.

Prior to this meeting, board papers for the AWMSG meeting have just been released, showing that the New Medicines Group have advised the committee to make a decision to allow Abraxane for restricted use on metastatic pancreatic cancer patients in Wales.

This means that they are recommending that only patients with a specific performance score status should receive the drug. (Karnofsky Performance Score of 70-80, i.e. those who are quite fit but not deemed fit enough to receive the more aggressive FOLFIRINOX chemotherapy combination).

Ms Alex Ford, Chief Executive of Pancreatic Cancer UK, said: "Whilst a restricted yes is better than a no, we are disappointed that this preliminary recommendation is limited to a particular sub-group of patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer, especially since there are very few treatments currently available for those with the disease. This restricted recommendation could potentially result in many eligible patients missing out on an effective treatment for this disease - one which is already available across the border in England via the Cancer Drugs Fund. Pancreatic Cancer UK urges the members of the AWMSG to use their discretion and give a full YES to Abraxane when they meet on 3rd September, giving greater potential benefit to more patients in Wales."

Abraxane® (Paclitaxel Albumin) is a type of drug for use in metastatic pancreatic cancer (cancer that has spread to other parts of the body). When used in combination with a standard chemotherapy treatment (gemcitabine), the drug has been shown to extend life by an average of two months, although in some cases significantly more. For many cancers two additional months may not represent a significant advance. However, given that the average survival rate for a newly diagnosed pancreatic cancer patient is just 2-6 months this represents a significant gain in extra time. Find out more about our Two More Months campaign.