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Decision to withdraw Jevtana in England ‘flawed’

Urologists and oncologists attack NHS England’s de-listing of Sanofi’s drug

Sanofi logoA UK charity has denounced NHS England's decision to withdraw a new prostate cancer drug from its funding stream.

The Prostate Project, a UK-based charity originating from the University of Surrey, has said that removing Sanofi's Jevtana (cabazitaxel) from the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) “ignores medical advice to the contrary”.

Professor Stephen Langley and Professor Chris Eden, consultant urological surgeons at the Royal Surrey hospital, and trustees of The Prostate Project, have both attacked the decision to cull 16 drugs and 25 indications from the £280m annual Fund as it struggles to keep up with demand and rising prices.

Jevtana has been funded by the CDF for over a year, but from March faces being culled completely from the silo budget. As it has not been recommended by NICE, no new patients will be able to access it from this point.

“For too long prostate cancer has been the Cinderella of cancers: under resourced and poorly funded”, says Prof Langley.

Prof Eden agrees, saying: “It is quite wrong to deny drugs with proven efficacy to men in this country who are terminally ill when they are available in other European countries, the US, Australia, New Zealand (the list goes on) and when this ignores medical advice to the contrary.”

Jevtana is manufactured and distributed by Sanofi, whose UK headquarters is in Guildford, the same city the Prostate Project is based.

It is currently the only treatment for hormone resistant advanced prostate cancer for use after chemotherapy. It costs around £20,000 per year per patient but has shown in clinical trials to extend life by three months for men with no further treatment options.

Professor Hardev Pandha, also a Prostate Project trustee who heads a 25-strong cancer research team at the University of Surrey, is a signatory on a letter of complaint from 20 oncologists to the Cancer Drugs Fund regarding this poor decision.

He said: “The letter to Peter Clark, chairman of the CDF, is the only official method of complaint the government are allowing and best way to try and ensure that the door does not shut permanently for this important option for men. The basis of the CDF's decision making is fundamentally flawed and as a result men will be undertreated. We wont let this rest until the decision is reversed.”

The Prostate project say in a statement that the decision to de-list Jevtana is “surprising”, given that English cancer patients are still faring poorly compared to their European counterparts in terms of outcomes.

The charity points out that the Cancer Drugs Fund only accounts for 0.3% of the total NHS spend, and 2.5% of the NHS drugs bill.

The charity says: “There is a less than a four-week window remaining during which time NHS England will continue to fund Jevtana. Unless pressure groups can reverse the decision within the deadline, this successful, life-saving drug will be de-listed.”

Article by
Ben Adams

16th February 2015

From: Research, Sales

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