16/05/2012 10:28 BST | Updated 16/05/2012 10:32 BST

Nice Recommend NHS Prescribe Prostate Cancer Pill (Zytiga)

A drug to treat advanced prostate cancer should be given to patients on the NHS, a health watchdog has said.

Abirateron, marketed as Zytiga, can extend the lives of late-stage cancer sufferers by more than three months.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) revised its recommendations after fresh information from manufacturer Janssen, and the new draft guidance was welcomed by experts.

Professor Alan Ashworth, chief executive of the Institute of Cancer Research, said: "We are delighted by today's decision to allow patients with advanced prostate cancer to receive abiraterone on the NHS.

"This drug was discovered at the Institute of Cancer Research and is the result of more than two decades of dedicated work by our scientists and collaborators.

"In clinical trials of men with advanced prostate cancer who have already tried chemotherapy, it has been shown to extend life by an average of four months and improve quality of life."

Each year around 37,000 men in the UK are diagnosed with prostate cancer and 10,000 die from the disease. It is the second most common cause of cancer death in men, accounting for 13%.

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Sir Andrew Dillon, chief executive of Nice, said: "During the consultation on the draft guidance Janssen, the manufacturer of the drug, submitted further information for the committee to consider.

"This included a revised patient access scheme which involves providing the drug to the NHS at a discounted price, further information on which patients would benefit most and clarification on how many patients could receive the drug.

"These factors enabled the committee to revise its preliminary recommendation and now recommend the drug for use on the NHS.

"We are very pleased that Janssen's submission to our consultation means that we are able to produce draft guidance recommending abiraterone - it is an effective treatment, potentially extending life by more than three months, and it also allows patients to be treated at home as it can be taken orally."

As Nice has not issued final guidance there is a chance the decision could be appealed against, and NHS bodies should make decisions locally on the funding of specific treatments.

Nice recommended the use of abiraterone in combination with prednisone or prednisolone for the treatment of castration-resistant metastatic prostate cancer that has progressed after one docetaxel-containing therapy.

The Prostate Cancer Charity also welcomed the recommendation, but called for the guidance to be issued across the whole of the UK - including Scotland - because Nice covers just England and Wales.

Owen Sharp, chief executive of the charity said: "This announcement represents a resounding triumph for each of the thousands of men with advanced prostate cancer in England and Wales who know just how much the prospect of precious extra time with their loved ones really means.

"We are delighted that Nice has overturned its earlier decision after reviewing the evidence. We are also pleased that the manufacturer responded to our call to deliver a further reduction in price.

"Although today marks a very welcome advancement, it has to be remembered that abiraterone remains out of reach to men in Scotland on the NHS.

"We need to see every man who needs this drug receive it on the NHS, regardless of where they live in the UK."

Pictures of the Day 16 May 2012