Wales Continues NHS Cancer Drug

Pancreatic cancer drug Abraxane continues to be available in Wales despite a decision by NICE to not recommend its use in the NHS.

The pancreatic cancer drug Abraxane will continue to be available in Wales despite a decision by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) to not recommend its use in the NHS, Health and Social Services Minister Mark Drakeford has announced.

In September 2014, the All-Wales Medicines Strategy Group (AWMSG) appraised Abraxane for the treatment of pancreatic cancer and recommended it as a treatment option in NHS Wales.

It has been available to patients with pancreatic cancer, who meet the clinical criteria, in Wales since the positive AWMSG decision.

NICE subsequently appraised Abraxane and published its decision not recommend its use within the NHS in Wales or England in October 2015. 

NICE advice normally supersedes an AWMSG recommendation. 

Abraxane has been available in Wales, in line with the AWMSG recommendation, as an interim measure following the publication of the NICE guidance.

In light of the clear clinical need and the potential for the drug to have a positive impact on a patient population of between 400 and 500 people in Wales, the Welsh Government has reached an agreement with Abraxane’s manufacturer Celgene to secure continued access for Welsh patients. 

The manufacturer is keen to submit new real-world data to NICE and has committed to seek a re-appraisal within the next two years.

Professor Drakeford said, “I’m pleased to confirm the Welsh Government has finalised an access agreement with Celgene to enable continued availability of Abraxane for Welsh patients with pancreatic cancer.  

“This agreement recognises that current treatment options are limited and the prognosis for patients is often poor."

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