The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) met on May 6th to appraise whether the cancer drug, Abraxane® should be made routinely available on the NHS in Scotland. Their decision was made public today (June 9th) that it would be not be made available for routine use on the NHS in Scotland on cost grounds.
Abraxane® (Paclitaxel Albumin) is a type of chemotherapy drug for use in metastatic pancreatic cancer (cancer that has spread to other parts of the body) in combination with gemcitabine, a standard chemotherapy drug. Licenced in January 2014, trials have shown it can increase survival by an average of two months - a significant amount of time for pancreatic cancer patients with metastatic disease as median survival is just two to six months. In March 2014 the NHS England Cancer Drugs Fund added Abraxane to its approved list of drugs.
Comment on the decision from Pancreatic Cancer UK
Ms Alex Ford, Chief Executive of Pancreatic Cancer UK comments:
"As a Charity that speaks to patients and carers right across the UK on a daily basis we are extremely disappointed by this decision. This is bad news for metastatic pancreatic cancer patients in Scotland, and especially distressing as this treatment is available across the border in England via the Cancer Drugs Fund.
Given that most patients are diagnosed at a point when the disease is too advanced to treat, the negative SMC advice on Abraxane could potentially affect a significant number of patients with the disease each year in Scotland. This decision is difficult to understand given the severity and bleak outlook of most pancreatic cancer diagnoses and the lack of treatment options currently available to them.
We understand that Celgene, the manufacturer of Abraxane, can resubmit their application through a process for new end of life drugs in Scotland, called Patient and Clinician Involvement (PACE). This is a new process which we hope will mean greater weighting will be given to the views of patients and clinicians when deciding whether to approve an end of life drug or not. We hope that a resubmission will be made as soon as possible, as the process could take several months to complete.
We will continue to lobby in Scotland for this decision to be reviewed as soon as possible; to campaign throughout the rest of the UK to ensure NICE positively appraises this drug; as well as encourage Celgene and the relevant agencies to find a solution to make Abraxane routinely available on the NHS to eligible patients across the UK."