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Dismay over prostate drug rejection
The decision to reject a new prostate drug for NHS use has been described as a "real blow" to men who suffer from the disease.
Health officials have made a preliminary decision not to recommend the drug radium-223 dichloride for widespread use for NHS patients with prostate cancer that has spread to the bone.
The latest draft guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) states that manufacturers Bayer have not provided information on how the drug performs in contrast to drugs currently available for use in the health service in England and Wales.
Charity Prostate Cancer UK expressed dismay at the decision, saying the internal radiotherapy treatment , also known as xofigo, can extend survival by 3.6 months with "minor side effects".
Mikis Euripides, director of policy and strategy at the charity, said: "It's a terrible kick in the teeth for men facing their last months, especially as other new treatments, such as enzalutamide, have restrictions on use in England and Wales.
"Unless the drug company provides the necessary evidence, men will be denied this safe and effective drug. We urge Bayer to submit everything required in the coming weeks before Nice takes its final decision on this valuable treatment.
"Men dying of prostate cancer have so few options and to lose one that has already been developed and is known to be effective is madness."
Nice chief executive Sir Andrew Dillon said: "Clinical specialists told the committee that radium-223 would be used as an alternative treatment option to docetaxel as an initial treatment, and abiraterone as a second-line treatment when the disease has progressed. However, Bayer did not to provide the committee with any data on how well radium-223 works compared to docetaxel or abiraterone or, only comparing it to a placebo.
"Bone metastases are very distressing for patients and their families, particularly as a result of bone pain and fatigue, which have a profound effect on patients' quality of life, by limiting their mobility and meaning full-time care would often be needed for daily activities.
"We know how important this could be to patients and we are disappointed not to able to recommend this drug, but we have to be confident that its benefits justify its considerable cost."