The UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has issued its final guidance recommending German pharma major Bayer’s (BAYN: DE) Xofigo (radium-223 dichloride) to treat castration-resistant prostate cancer, symptomatic bone metastases and no known visceral metastases, who have received previous docetaxel therapy.
The recommendation implies there will be no gap when the funding stream switches from the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) to baseline commissioning in April. However, this news means that there are clear disparities in access to treatment across the UK for some patients. The Scottish Medicines Consortium has accepted the use of radium-223 for all eligible patients in Scotland pre- or post-docetaxel, but patients in Wales and Northern Ireland will still not be able to receive radium-223 pre-chemotherapy.
Alexander Moscho, chief executive of Bayer UK & Ireland, said: “Bayer is pleased that NICE has recommended radium-223 to patients after treatment with docetaxel and that eligible patients will also be able to receive this treatment pre-docetaxel through the CDF and the ability for clinicians to provide this treatment should therefore not be compromised. There still remains uncertainty around the CDF and funding for cancer therapies going forward and we remain committed to work with the relevant authorities to ensure all suitable patients have access across whole of UK.”
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer affecting men in the UK. In 2011 there were approximately 41,700 men diagnosed with prostate cancer, which is more than 110 every day. In some cases prostate cancer may spread to other parts of the body, particularly the bones, in certain cases leading to debilitating pain, and/or bone fractures.
Hugh Gunn, from Tackle Prostate Cancer, said: “It is great news that patients now have access to radium-223 on the NHS and will also continue to have access through the CDF. It will allow them to spend more time with loved ones in less pain.”