Prostate cancer gets a new enemy

NICE approves prostate drug Xtandi for use in the NHS across England and Wales, doing away with previous restrictions.

Recently released final guidance has seen the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) granting approval for the prostate cancer drug Xtandi to be used across the NHS in Wales and England.

The drug, produced by Astellas and Medivation, has been approved for the treatment of men with the disease who have already taken the chemotherapy drug docetaxel, and will soon be widely available.

This marks a change of heart for the regulator, as draft guidance issued in January saw NICE placing restrictions on the use of Xtandi.  The latest guidance and has removed the restrictions “following the response to consultation”, placing Wales and England on equal footing with Scotland where the drug was approved last November.

The charity Prostate Cancer UK has “cautiously welcomed” the decision to remove the restriction after having campaigning against it, but the charity’s chief executive, Owen Sharp, warned: “If it transpires in reality that this is a de facto restriction thinly veiled by complex prose, we will be holding relevant parties to account.”

Xtandi was approved for use across Europe last year, with sales for 2014 predicted to reach $500m thanks to success in the US.