National charity Pancreatic Cancer UK says patients feel relieved that Abraxane® – hailed as the first breakthrough drug for pancreatic cancer in 20 years - will not be immediately removed from the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) List.
Instead, following weeks of review, Abraxane will remain on the CDF whilst more evidence of its effectiveness, is gathered. In particular the CDF panel wants to assess in more detail the drug’s toxicity and effect on patients’ quality of life. It has been less than a year [March 2014] since Abraxane® was added to the CDF list in England for cases of advanced pancreatic cancer and since then, over 260 patients have been able to access the drug via the Fund.
The decision comes just weeks after the drug – which has been shown in trials to extend life by an average of just over two months and, in some cases, to over two years – was turned down by NICE as an approved drug for use in metastatic pancreatic cancer patients in England. So it was vital that Abraxane was not removed from the CDF as well, otherwise patients in England would not have been able to access it at all in future.
Pancreatic cancer is the fifth biggest cancer killer in the UK – claiming the lives of one person every hour. Patients currently face just a four per cent chance of survival, the lowest survival rate of all 21 common cancers. Chronic late diagnosis results in many patients being diagnosed at a point when the cancer has spread to other parts of their body.
Alex Ford, Chief Executive of Pancreatic Cancer UK, said: "Clearly we would have preferred a solid confirmation that Abraxane would remain on the CDF long-term. However, we are relieved to know that it has not been immediately removed from the CDF List, and that there is an opportunity to present further evidence of the drug’s effectiveness. We are convinced that Abraxane offers an important step forward in treatment options for pancreatic cancer patients and that it can extend patients’ lives. We know large numbers of clinicians hold that view too.
"So we are hoping that the manufacturers of the drug will be able to work with NHS England to provide the necessary evidence. For our part, we will continue to campaign – within Parliament and within NHS England – for the drug to remain on the CDF longer-term.
“We are glad that the arguments in favour of the drug have been listened to – not least from the thousands of people who signed our petition calling for Abraxane to be reprieved - and hope and expect that the decision-makers will continue to listen to evidence and arguments in favour of the drug in future.”
Read the announcement here: http://www.england.nhs.uk/2015/01/12/cancer-drug-budget/