Pancreatic Cancer UK says it is outraged that as of today, (Wednesday 4th November), the life-extending drug Abraxane is no longer available to newly eligible patients with advanced pancreatic cancer in England through the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF).
People who are currently being treated with Abraxane through the CDF will continue to be able to access the treatment.
A week ago (Wednesday, 28th October), patients and families were dealt another blow in that the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) confirmed it would not be recommending Abraxane for routine, long term use on the NHS in England.
When used in combination with standard chemotherapy, Abraxane can allow eligible patients with advanced pancreatic cancer to live an extra two months on average, and sometimes much longer. Someone with advanced pancreatic cancer will typically live for just two to six months after diagnosis.
Alex Ford, Chief Executive at Pancreatic Cancer UK, said: “Today, our worst fears have been realised. We are outraged that hundreds of newly eligible patients with advanced pancreatic cancer in England will now be cruelly denied the chance to spend twice as long with their families as they could without Abraxane.
“Access to this treatment is a no-brainer – Abraxane is one of very few new treatments for advanced pancreatic cancer in 20 years which can allow people to live longer. It was also the only treatment for pancreatic cancer available through the Cancer Drugs Fund. We are doing everything we can to get this decision overturned and make this drug available to patients in the short term.
“NICE must also talk with the drug manufacturer and work towards finding a solution urgently for the longer term. We simply must make this treatment available to all eligible patients, and that must happen as soon as possible.”
We are also campaigning for an overhaul of the drug approval system in England, which is broken. A new system must recognise that for people with cancers with the worst survival rates, like pancreatic cancer, the chance to potentially live two more months than they would have done otherwise, makes an immeasurable difference to them and their loved ones. A new system could be similar to the Scottish system in which more weight is given to evidence provided by clinicians and patient groups.