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NICE announces reappraisal of Abraxane

Posted by: Policy and campaigning 18 May 2016

We are delighted that the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has today announced that it will be bringing forward the reappraisal of pancreatic cancer drug Abraxane. We strongly welcome the reappraisal, which gives us a vital opportunity to argue again for the life-extending treatment to be made available, free of charge, to pancreatic cancer patients across the UK on the NHS.

You can read a statement from our Chief Executive Alex Ford here.

Our work so far

Abraxane, when used in combination with standard chemotherapy, has been shown to extend survival in patients with advanced pancreatic cancer by an average of two months, although in some cases significantly longer. For a disease where survival post diagnosis can be short, this is precious extra time to spend with loved ones and to get affairs in order. Find out more about Abraxane here.

Over the last two years, we have fought hard alongside our supporters for Abraxane to be made available to all pancreatic cancer patients across the UK through our Two More Months campaign.

The drug is currently available to pancreatic cancer patients for free through the NHS in Wales and Scotland, but not to patients in England or Northern Ireland, creating a postcode lottery in access to this treatment across the UK.

We were delighted when in March 2014 the NHS England announced that the drug would be made available to patients through the Cancer Drugs Fund. Over 500 patients with advanced pancreatic cancer went on to receive the treatment through the CDF. However, on 4th September 2015, NHS England announced that the drug would be removed from the CDF list of approved drugs. 

The following month, NICE also decided not to recommend the Abraxane for routine use on the NHS in England due to their assessment criteria concluding it would not be cost effective for the NHS. As a result, patients in England have been unable to access Abraxane for free since its removal from the CDF on 4th November 2015. And because Northern Ireland normally follows decisions made by NICE, it is also not available to patients there.

Patients were given renewed hope in March 2016 when NICE announced it would consider bringing forward the reappraisal of the drug, scheduled for 2018. This was in response to drug manufacturer Celgene putting forward a Patient Access Scheme (PAS) proposal, which would bring down the cost of the drug. We issued a joint response with Pancreatic Cancer Action to NICE’s proposal arguing for the reappraisal to be brought forward and are delighted to hear today that NICE has taken our comments on board. Read the joint response here.

The case for Abraxane

Currently, treatment options available to pancreatic cancer patients are extremely limited and survival rates have barely changed in 40 years. It is therefore vital that effective new treatments are made available to pancreatic cancer patients.

Abraxane, when used in combination with standard chemotherapy, represents one of the biggest advances in pancreatic cancer treatment in twenty years. It has the potential to benefit hundreds of patients and their families meaning more precious and valuable time together.

We will continue to fight alongside others for the drug to be made available to patients in England by fully engaging in the reappraisal process.

How can you help?

To help us provide strong evidence as part of the reappraisal process, we are carrying out a survey, asking for the views, knowledge and experience of patients, or the family members of friends of patients, who have used Abraxane. This might have been through the NHS in Scotland or Wales; through the CDF in England before it was removed; or through private healthcare.

If you, or a family member or friend has been treated with Abraxane, we would really appreciate your input into the survey, which can be found here.