Tuesday, 15 May 2012

NICE and the Prostate Drug Abiraterone

Originally NICE rejected the prostate drug Abiraterone as not being cost effective. It was originally £3000 and can extend life by over 3 months. I would totally agree with their decision and suggest that there is some evidence for no efficacious benefit at all.

Extending life by over 3 months is rather vague, as the life expectancy of those with prostate cancer will show some variation. The drug company will have found the studies that show the biggest possible effect size and this is a very small effect. So it is possible with larger studies over a longer period that the effect might be shown to be non-existent and a result of the variation in cancer life expectancy.

I know that as a patient terminally ill with prostate cancer you want to delay the end as long as you can but taking into consideration the quality of life and the limited extension of life this does not seem a worthwhile drug. I have seen someone have their life extended by 9 months by extensive, painful and debilitating anti-cancer treatment. To see them given false hopes only to eventually succumb. This is another of those false hopes.

NICE changed their view as the drug company cut the price tag from £3000 a month to something more affordable. But this still raises questions about how the drug company tries to set prices for new drugs without any sense of the market value and how the NHS can be pushed into signing deals with Big Pharma especially when public opinion is involved.


No comments: