The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has now published guidance supporting the NHS use of Sanofi Genzyme's plant-based chemotherapy Jevtana for prostate cancer.
Routine funding is now available for the drug when used in combination with prednisone or prednisolone as a treatment option for patients in England with metastatic hormone-relapsed prostate cancer; NHS Wales and Health and Social Care Northern Ireland are also expected to adopt the guidelines.
Prostate cancer is currently the most common cancer in men and kills about 10,500 men in the UK every year. Most prostate cancers become resistant to hormone therapy over time and continue to grow despite treatment, and Jevtana (cabazitaxel) is now the only remaining NICE approved chemotherapy option for advanced forms of the disease not responsive to hormone therapies following initial treatment with docetaxel.
The appraisal committee had initially rejected Jevtana because of concerns about its cost-effectiveness compared with standard treatments (such as abiraterone, enzalutamide or radium-223 dichloride). But Sanofi then increased the discount and confirmed that it can supply the drug in intravenous bags instead of vials, reducing waste and increasing its cost-effectiveness.
According to prostate cancer charity Tackle, Jevtana is "a much-needed extra life line option for those men who have advanced prostate cancer". It's treasurer Hugh Gunn noted that the recommendation "provides an important treatment for patients who are in the latter stages of the disease and who have few therapeutic options."
Over the last 18 months, over 770 patients accessed Jevtana through the Cancer Drugs Fund. The drug has now moved into the routine commissioning stream, although the number of patients accessing it is not anticipated to change as a result.
Jevtana is currently being appraised by the Scottish Medicines Consortium, with guidance expected to be available next month.