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Life-extending prostate cancer drug fast-tracked to NHS


Life-extending prostate cancer drug fast-tracked to NHS

By Neil Trainis

A drug that can extend the life of men whose prostate cancer has spread to other parts of the body will be made available on the NHS within weeks after an agreement was struck between NHS England and the treatment’s manufacturer Bayer.

NHSE said the drug, darolutamide, which is normally taken as a tablet with food in combination with androgen-deprivation therapy (ADT) and docetaxel chemotherapy, will be available “on a budget-neutral basis to the NHS” while the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence “completes its ongoing appraisal".

The drug, also known by its brand name Nubeqa, was fast-tracked through the Project Orbis programme which reviews and approves treatments and is co-ordinated by the US Food and Drug Administration which works alongside the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency as well as the regulators of Australia, Canada, Singapore, Switzerland and Brazil.

Darolutamide is already available on the NHS for the treatment of localised prostate cancer and it is believed England will become the first country in Europe to offer it on the NHS for patients whose cancer has spread.

To highlight the treatment’s effectiveness, NHSE cited the ARASENS trial at Colchester Hospital which showed patients who took the drug were 32.5 per cent less likely to die than if they had undergone ADT and docetaxel alone.

Prostate cancer is the most common form of the disease in men, with 47,000 people diagnosed each year in England and 9,000 developing an aggressive form that spreads.

Those 9,000 people will be eligible for the new treatment which blocks androgen receptors in cancer cells and stops them surviving and multiplying.

NHSE said patients who have completed their course of chemotherapy with docetaxel will continue to have their original hormone therapy alongside darolutamide to keep testosterone levels low and prevent the disease spreading.

Chiara De Biase, the director of support and influencing at Prostate Cancer UK, said he hoped the treatment’s temporary approval would lead to it being rolled out permanently across the UK.

“Being told you have advanced prostate cancer can be devastating and we urgently need new treatments to help these men live longer,” she said.

“That’s why it’s fantastic that thousands of men are being given early access to darolutamide alongside traditional hormone therapy and chemotherapy, which could massively improve their survival.”

Darolutamide is the fifth cancer drug fast-tracked on to the NHS via Project Orbis after mobocertinib, osimertinib, atezolizumab and sotorasib.

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