NICE has today confirmed that it has not recommended Abraxane for use by the NHS in England for patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer, on cost grounds. This decision will also affect patients in Northern Ireland.
We are extremely disappointed and frustrated at this negative decision, which prevents a new drug with proven survival benefits – 2 months on average although in some cases significantly more - from being made routinely available to eligible patients.
NICE refused to consider Abraxane under its end of life criteria, a decision that is hard to accept given that the average survival time from diagnosis for a metastatic pancreatic cancer patient is between just 2 – 6 months; that pancreatic cancer has the worst survival rates of any of the 21 most common cancers at less than 4%; that those rates have remained virtually unchanged for 40 years; and that Abraxane is the first real advance in treatment terms for almost 20 years.
This decision by NICE means it is now absolutely vital that Abraxane is retained on the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) as an alternative way for patients in England to access the treatment. However, the CDF is also currently reconsidering Abraxane’s place on its own list of approved drugs and there is now a very real chance that it will be removed from the list, meaning it will not be able to be accessed for free on the NHS at all. We have been campaigning strongly for the CDF to retain Abraxane on its list and we should know the decision soon.