Abraxane added to Cancer Drugs list – at last!

March 20, 2014 by
Health   No Comments Yet

Abraxane – used for the treatment of advanced pancreatic cancer – has been added to the National Cancer Drugs Fund List, it has been announced by the Cancer Drugs Fund Panel (CDF), bringing delight to those who have campaigned for its inclusion – including patients, families, charities plus MP Eric Ollerenshaw and singer Suggs.

Nab-paclitaxelThis mean doctors will be able to offer patients with advanced pancreatic cancer Abraxane (Paclitaxel Albumin) – which used in combination with standard gemcitabine has been found in clinical trials to extend a patients’ life for on average two months – with some patients living significantly longer.

For anyone diagnosed with this type of cancer (or for their family and friends), this is positive news. Life expectancy of pancreatic cancer patients averages less than six months from diagnosis.

Pancreatic Cancer UK’s Two More Months campaign has highlighted the importance of what this extra time would mean to patients and their families.

Eric Ollerenshaw, who I interviewed for the Telegraph earlier this year, and who lost his partner of 35 years to the illness, has campaigned tirelessly for Abraxane to made available.

Campaigning: Eric Ollerenshaw

Campaigning: Eric Ollerenshaw

He says: ‘This is really good news, as it is the first positive hope for helping treat this disease in years. The decision demonstrates what is possible from a united front of The APPG on Pancreatic Cancer in Parliament, patient organizations, and friends and relatives of individuals lost early to this disease who allowed their stories to be told publicly in the “Two more months’ campaign” organised by Pancreatic Cancer UK. There is still so much more to do, but this is at least a start in England. I’d like to thank the Cancer Drugs Fund committee for making this possible.’

Ms Alex Ford, Chief Executive of Pancreatic Cancer UK comments: ‘We are delighted by the Cancer Drugs Fund’s decision to include Abraxane on its list of approved drugs. This will make a real and tangible difference to the lives of patients with pancreatic cancer as well as their families and loved ones.’

She makes the point that: ‘However, whilst extremely welcome, the CDF decision is only a stop-gap until NICE makes a more permanent appraisal decision in 2015. Moreover, the CDF only covers England, so patients in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will have to wait for separate funding decisions being made in those countries – time which many patients simply do not have.

‘Pancreatic Cancer UK will continue to run its Two More Months campaign – an emotive campaign launched earlier this year, which, as well raising widespread awareness and capturing the attention of the national and regional media, also encouraged many of our supporters to contact and lobby their MPs ahead of this decision. The campaign clearly had a positive effect on the CDF outcome, and we are thankful to all those who got involved. Now, as a charity that prides itself on “being the voice” of our supporters, patients and their families, we will continue to put pressure on key decision makers until all patients across the whole of the UK have access to this extremely important drug.’

 

About the Author

Victoria Lambert has been a journalist for more than 20 years, and specialises in health and medical matters. She writes for the Telegraph, the Times, the Sunday Times, the Guardian, the Mail and the Mail on Sunday. She contributes to Saga, Geographical and First Eleven magazines – where she is the agony aunt.

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