GUILDFORD, England, March 10, 2015 /PRNewswire/ --
In light of NHS England's plan to remove 25 uses of cancer medicines from the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) on 12 March, a new survey has revealed considerable dissatisfaction amongst oncologists with some of the proposed changes. Over three quarters (79%) of oncologists surveyed agree or strongly agree that the cuts will compromise their ability to make optimal treatment choices for their patients, while a similar number (74%) believe the CDF panel placed budgetary considerations ahead of what's best for cancer patients when they made their decisions about cuts to the CDF.
Specifically, almost two thirds of prostate cancer clinicians said that following the removal of cabazitaxel (Jevtana®) from the CDF, they expect to manage prostate cancer with less effective treatment for longer, or move patients onto palliative (supportive) care sooner.
Professor Amit Bahl, Consultant Clinical Oncologist and Clinical Director at Bristol Haematology and Oncology Centre commented, "It will be highly detrimental if NHS England goes ahead and de-lists cabazitaxel. It is an important treatment for some men with prostate cancer who may have no other treatment options available to them. It is incomprehensible that as clinicians we will no longer be able to treat patients with important therapies proven to extend survival. Having treated several patients with cabazitaxel I am very aware of the real life difference it makes to their survival and quality of life and would like future patients to have the opportunity to avail this treatment."
Significantly, nearly three quarters (70%) of the oncologists surveyed said that as a result of cutting cabazitaxel from the Fund, outcomes for men with prostate cancer living in England will be worse. Not surprising, given that over three quarters (77%) said that there is a group of patients for which cabazitaxel fulfills an unmet need.
Hugh Gunn, spokesperson for prostate cancer patients' charity TACKLE, added, "12 March will be a truly terrible day for men with prostate cancer and their families if cabazitaxel is de-listed. For many men - myself included - cabazitaxel was going to be the next treatment option. In fact, the last treatment option we had left. At the moment I'm well, but in a few months time I might not be; for the first time in my entire cancer journey I'm frightened."
NHS England's plans to cut drugs from the CDF are surprising, given that English cancer patients are still faring poorly compared to their European counterparts. Cabazitaxel is available across Europe, with countries under much greater financial pressure than the UK such as Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Romania, Greece and Portugal providing funding. The UK spends less on cancer drugs per inhabitant than in other European countries - especially on newer drugs. In England, this is just 8p a day per person., The Cancer Drugs Fund, set up in 2010 to facilitate better access to cancer drugs, only accounts for 0.3% of the total NHS spend and only 2.5% of the NHS drugs bill.-
Cabazitaxel is the only active treatment for advanced prostate cancer which is not responsive to any available hormone therapies following initial chemotherapy (docetaxel).- Cabazitaxel fulfills an important unmet need in certain patients and has been proven to extend survival in advanced prostate cancer. By de-listing this drug, NHS England is denying some patients with no other options, access to a vital, life-changing treatment.
Tarja Stenvall, General Manager for Sanofi in the UK, commented, "The decision to cut cabazitaxel is out of step with clinical opinion and patient need. We have made an offer to NHS England, the Department of Health and NICE in an attempt to ensure that men get access to the treatment they need. All sides have a responsibility to work together to find a solution for patients. We have asked David Cameron to intervene to make sure we have the opportunity to discuss that solution with the CDF Panel."
Notes to Editors
Prostate cancer is the most common male cancer in the UK; in the UK one in eight men will get prostate cancer during their lives. Over 40,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year.
Most men with advanced prostate cancer eventually become resistant to hormonal therapy and their disease can progress after docetaxel chemotherapy. Before cabazitaxel, multiple medicines had been tested in this area without success demonstrating that this is a very difficult to treat population.
Cabazitaxel is a taxane (plant-based) chemotherapy that may be active in cancer cells which are resistant to standard chemotherapy., Cabazitaxel works by inhibiting cell division causing cancer cell death.
Cabazitaxel is the only active treatment option for advanced prostate cancer which is not responsive to available hormonal therapies following initial chemotherapy (with docetaxel).- It has been licensed in the UK and the rest of Europe for use in men with advanced prostate cancer and available on the CDF since 2012. There have been 707 requests submitted to the CDF for cabazitaxel in the last 18 months.
Cancer Drug Fund
The Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) was set up as an interim measure by the coalition Government to facilitate better access to cancer drugs. Drugs on the CDF list are those that either haven't yet been approved by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and aren't available within the NHS in England, or following appraisal haven't been deemed cost effective.
The CDF will run until the end of March 2016 when a new way of setting prices for cancer drugs, which aims to make more drugs routinely available in the NHS, will be introduced.
Patients who are already receiving treatment can continue until their doctor feels it is appropriate for them to stop.
About the survey
An online survey of 115 oncologists was conducted, sampled from the doctors.net.uk community with additional recruitment conducted by M3 Global Research. All of the sample were either consultant or senior registrar level, treating colorectal cancer and/or prostate cancer patients (in their top three tumour sites), and are responsible for making clinical decisions for those patients. Of the 115 sample 77 are prostate cancer specialists, and questions relating to prostate cancer were only answered by this portion of the sample. Full details are available on request.
About Sanofi Oncology
Based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA and Vitry, France, Sanofi Oncology is dedicated to translating science into effective therapeutics that address unmet medical needs for cancer and organ transplant patients. Starting with a deep understanding of the disease and the patient, Sanofi Oncology employs innovative approaches to drug discovery and clinical development, with the ultimate goal of bringing the right medicines to the right patients to help them live healthier and longer lives. We believe in the value of partnerships that combine our internal scientific expertise with that of industry and academic experts. Our portfolio includes 10 marketed products and more than 15 investigational compounds in clinical development, including small molecules and biological agents.
Sanofi, a global and diversified healthcare leader, discovers, develops and distributes therapeutic solutions focused on patients' needs. Sanofi has core strengths in the field of healthcare with seven growth platforms: diabetes solutions, human vaccines, innovative drugs, consumer healthcare, emerging markets, animal health and the new Genzyme. Sanofi is listed in Paris (EURONEXT: SAN) and in New York (NYSE: SNY).
Sanofi Forward Looking Statements
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- CDF Survey, Sanofi data on file SAGB.ONC.15.02.0217
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Alison Spink, Oncology Communications, Sanofi UK
Laura Chambers, Just:: Health Communications
Date of Preparation: March 2015
Job bag: SAGB.ONC.15.03.0250